Sep 25, 2019
Great shows, very helpful information. I just wish they were consistent in length. I usually only have about 30-45 minutes to listen to the show, and 45 minutes is a stretch. When they exceed an hour, I cannot listen to the entire show.
Aug 14, 2019
very informative, greatly enjoy
Hosted by Marine Corps Veteran Tanner Iskra, Borne the Battle recognizes each battle, challenge, and sacrifice our Veterans endure during and after their service, as well as spotlighting important resources, offices, and benefits VA offers our Veterans.
The Department of Veterans Affairs does not endorse or officially sanction any entities that may be discussed in this podcast, nor any media, products or services they may provide.
Veterans (Army) Jason Hoge and (Marines) Joseph Schmitt cover how their personal experiences help guide them to help others who face a debt repayment. They also break down the assistance provided to Veterans during situations such as natural disasters and COVID-19.
Sep 14, 2020
#210: Tony Temerario, 9/11 Responder, Green Beret, AT&T Executive
Army Veteran Blake Hall shares what life was like after leaving the Army, insight to the future of online identification, and shares what a lot of entrepreneurs forget to do when pitching their ideas to investors.
Army Veteran Florent Groberg, received the Medal of Honor in 2015 for actions during the War in Afghanistan. He has since become an business leader for LinkedIn, Boeing and Microsoft - and has also been made a playable character in Call of Duty: Warzone
Aug 24, 2020
BtB Rewind: Coach Mike Krzyzewski, Duke and USA Basketball, Army Veteran
An estimated 2,200 Native Alaskan Veterans who served during the Vietnam War, or their heirs, can soon acquire up to 160 acres of federal land in Alaska. Representatives from the Bureau of Land Management and VA break down the Alaska Native Veterans Program of 2019 and how you can help them identify eligible veterans.
Jul 27, 2020
#204 Military.com Staff Writer and Air Force Veteran Blake Stilwell
Air Force Veteran Blake Stilwell a former combat photographer and current staff writer for Military.com whose work has appeared on Business Insider, Fox News, ABC News, NBC, HBO, and at the White House.
Jul 20, 2020
#203 The (Serial) Hiking (Army) Veteran, Erik Schlimmer
Army Veteran Erik Schlimmer has camped over 1,000 nights, climbed over 2,000 summits and hiked over 15,000 miles. In 2010 he hiked the entire Trans Adirondack Route – which spans over 230 miles – over just a few weeks. Schlimmer believes that hiking is one of the best ways for anyone – Veteran or otherwise – to improve their health and their happiness.
Jul 13, 2020
#202: Bring Every Dad Home w/ Marine Veteran Ben Killoy, Host of Military Veteran Dad Podcast
Marine Veteran Ben Killoy struggled with the challenges of being a father. He found online communities of other men going through the same struggle, connected with the and in doing so, was able to better connect has a husband and as a dad. He spent years learning to blog, write, and connect with other people. Killoy then founded his Military Veteran Dad Podcast in 2018. He shares stories and helps Veteran fathers be more present for their families.
Jul 06, 2020
#201: Benefits Breakdown, CARES Act Funding to VA Homeless Programs
This 200th episode of Borne the Battle features Air Force Veteran Aerial Johnson, better known by her wrestling name “Big Swole,” Aerial shares her time in the military and how she transitioned into civilian life to eventually became a professional wrestler.
Jun 22, 2020
#199: A COVID Nurse's Story w/ Army Veteran Joshua Strickland, Lead Singer, Bayou Bandits
Army Veteran Josh Strickland is a family man, the lead singer of the Phoenix-based band the Bayou Bandits, and a registered nurse who has worked through the COVID-19 pandemic in some of the hardest-hit areas of the United States.
Jun 15, 2020
#198: Transition Talk w/ Marine Corps Veteran Beau Higgins, Amazon Military Affairs
Through founding Team RWB, Army Veteran and Team RWB Executive Director, Mike Erwin, discovered that he didn’t have to be in the military to continue serving. He has since founded more nonprofits and has co-written a book.
Marine Corps Veteran / Sniper Brian Marren is an expert in Human Behavior Pattern Recognition and Analysis. He has trained Tier One military units, Fortune 500 companies, schools, churches, as well as local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Brian explains how Human Behavior Pattern Recognition and Analysis is a scientific form of human behavior profiling--not based on race or religion but rather on how all humans behave.
Apr 20, 2020
#190: Benefits Breakdown, Debt Management Center, COVID-19 Relief for Veterans
Two new VA coronavirus websites are online. Update on the Wheelchair and Golden Age Games. VA suspends debt collection. Update on COVID-19 support from New Jersey Medical Center. Interview with Army Veteran Chad Butters, who early on, transformed his Pennsylvania distillery into a hand sanitizer production facility.
Apr 08, 2020
#189: Operation Abilene w/ Phil Hall and Fred Navarro
While they only knew him for one day, Army Veterans Phil Hall and Fred Navarro remember the man that sacrificed his life for them and their fellow brothers in Vietnam. They both signed statements of recommendation to upgrade Airman William H. Pitsenbarger’s Air Force Cross to the Medal of Honor.
In December 2000, 32 years after the Battle of Xa Cam My, Phil and Fred were able to attend Pitsenbarger’s Medal of Honor ceremony. The film, The Last Full Measure, is based on both battles that Phil and Fred faced, both in Vietnam and in DC.
Updates on SBA loans for affected small businesses, where you can find Veteran Health Administrations COVID-19 Response plan and FAQs, VA's medical support to New York City, where mobile vet centers are currently being deployed to, and an interview with two of the mobilized on-the-ground Vet Center directors currently operating in New York City and New Orleans.
Apr 01, 2020
#188: Justin Nassiri: Navy Veteran, Entrepreneur, Host of Beyond the Uniform Podcast
Founder and host of the podcast Beyond the Uniform, Navy Veteran, Justin Nassiri shares his journey from the Navy to his own business. Through his podcast, he advises and encourages Veterans as they transition from the military into civilian life.
Navy Veteran Darlene Iskra was the first woman to command a US naval ship. She now works as an ambassador for Women In Military Service For America Memorial to help Americans discover the military women who have served our country.
Before she transitioned into civilian life, Johnston followed her (pioneer) mother’s footsteps by becoming a Black Hawk helicopter pilot. Through her work as a board member at Carry the Load, Johnston helps provide a way for Americans to honor their military, Veterans and first responders – by never forgetting the true meaning of Memorial Day.
This week’s Benefits Breakdown features Army Veterans Dr. Eric Shuping and Vincent Mitchell. They discussed the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry - why it's important, who's eligible, and how you can sign up and take part.
Mar 09, 2020
#184: Honoring Vietnam Veterans w/ Army Veteran MG James T. Jackson
National Vietnam War Veterans Day is fast approaching (March 29). Army Veteran MG (ret) James T. Jackson is the director Vietnam Commemoration. Directed by Congress and executed by the DoD, the commemoration’s goal is to reach out and thank those that never got a proper welcome home, our Vietnam Veterans. Listen as MG Jackson lets you know how you can help him execute this important mission.
Marines Veteran Hiram Murray is a film military advisor and actor in LA. Murray discusses his journey from NYPD police officer on 9/11 to the USMC, to the LAPD and how those experiences led him to his current roles in Hollywood.
Feb 24, 2020
#182: Talking Sauce w/ Air Force Veteran Charlynda Scales
This week’s Borne the Battle begins where episode #169 left off, featuring guest Cheryl Mason, Chairman of the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA). In this Benefits Breakdown, Chairman Mason talks about the third lane of Appeals Modernization. Chairman Mason oversees the Board’s 1100 personnel, its budget, and ensures the Board conducts hearings, decides appeals for Veterans and their families, and ensures a Veteran’s voice is heard.
What does the VA Home Loan Program, the VA Office of Faith and Opportunity, the VA Assistive Technology Program, Vet Centers, Appeals Modernization Office and VA’s diabetes training and self-management have in common? They were all featured as benefits breakdown episodes on Borne the Battle in 2019.
If you've never heard an episode of Borne the Battle, this is a great place to start. Marine Veteran Tanner Iskra shares some meritorious segments from 2019. Segments include soundbites from NC farmer Valroy Williams, actress Jennifer Marshall, Postal Inspector Carroll Harris, Carry the Load's CEO Veteran Stephen Holley, Professional Wrestler Jan Ohrstrom, Pearl Harbor survivor William Bonelli, Camp Valor Outdoors' Denise Loring and Dan Duitsman, PopSmoke Media's Daniel Sharp, SecDef's Flight Surgeon and 9/11 first responder Dr. John Baxter, NASCAR Driver Jesse Iwuji, Wreaths Across America's Chairman Wayne Hanson and Actor Dale Dye.
“1917” and “The Last Full Measure” will soon be coming to a theater near you. These military movies have been carefully crafted to capture an authentic look at life in the military. Fortunately, many military films have been carefully crafted with the help of Veterans like Dale Dye, Travis Wade, Jennifer Marshall, and Hiram Murray. They came on Borne the Battle to discuss the business of making military films in the current Marvel and Call of Duty era.
Jan 13, 2020
*Bonus - "THE NEXT MISSION, Marine Veterans who are Changing the World" Presented by the Military Times
BONUS for subs! A panel of three Marine Veterans making a difference in their new respective fields. Sam Meek, CEO of SANDBOXX, Martha MacPhee, Director of Special Projects for Susan Davis International and Richard Cardona, Video Content Strategist. Panel was conducted at the Modern Day Marine Expo and was presented by the Military Times.
Dec 25, 2019
#176: Congressional Recommendations on Military, National and Public Service w/ Veterans Shawn Skelly and Ed Allard
Should every American Citizen serve in the military? Should women be required to register for the selective service (draft)? What should the future of the Selective Service look like? Navy Veteran Shawn Skelly and Marine Corps Veteran Ed Allard are commissioners for the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service (inspire2serve.gov). Their mission is to recommend answers to these and many more questions, to Congress by March of 2020. Ed and Shawn came on Borne the Battle to talk about the two years of data that @inspire2serve has gathered to answer these questions. They would also like to receive input from you – and the deadline is December 31, 2019.
Dec 18, 2019
#175: Benefits Breakdown - Diabetes Education and Self Management
According to our guest, 25% of Veterans receiving VA care have been diagnosed with diabetes. Mary Julius, a PM for Cleveland's VA diabetes self-management and education training program, (and also diagnosed with Type I diabetes) breaks down devices, tools and education available to diabetic veterans both in-person and online.
Dec 11, 2019
#174 Wreath Across America w/ Army Veteran Wayne Hanson
Wreaths Across America is a national campaign that coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies at over 1,700 national cemeteries, culminating at Arlington National Cemetery. The three-fold purpose of WAA aims to remember fallen U.S Veterans, honor those who currently serve, and teach children the value of freedom. Here, Hanson explains WAA’s humble beginnings and its rise into the national organization that it is today.
This week’s Borne the Battle features Wayne Hanson, the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Wreaths Across America (WAA).
WAA is a national campaign that coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies at over 1,700 national cemeteries, culminating at Arlington National Cemetery. The three-fold purpose of WAA aims to remember fallen U.S Veterans, honor those who currently serve, and teach children the value of freedom. Here, Hanson explains WAA’s humble beginnings and its rise into the national organization that it is today.
In this episode, Hanson discusses his time in the Army and the socio-political atmosphere of when he returned from Vietnam. He talks about transition and his gradual involvement at WAA. Lastly, he shares the four words from a stranger that kept him motivated to work even to this day.
Dec 04, 2019
#173 On the Firing Line with Marine Veteran Dan Duitsman
Camp Valor Outdoors’ shooting teams compete in professional matches all over the country. Marine Veteran Dan Duitsman is Camp Valor Outdoors’ Shooting Sports Program Director. His role is to get disabled veterans into competitive shooting – no matter the disability.
While in the Marine Corps, Dan worked in security forces, counterintelligence and the infantry. Prior to his role at Camp Valor Outdoors, he was a weapons instructor with the U.S. State Department. In this episode he talked about his career, his transition, the recreational-therapeutic benefits of the shooting and how to get involved in Camp Valor Outdoors’ shooting program.
Native American Vietnam Veteran Robert Primeaux shared his journey from a Lakota reservation to the Army, to Hollywood.
As a young man, Primeaux was eager to get off the reservation and see the world. To leave, he decided to join the Army. He trained in Fort Lewis and Fort Knox before joining the 101st Airborne Division and sent off to Vietnam.
In 1972, Primeaux returned to the United States. His younger brother had been killed in a car accident, leaving Primeaux as the sole male survivor of his family.
However, he did not stay in the Army long. A car accident of his own put him in a coma for three weeks. After he recovered, he was discharged.
Primeaux then lived on his grandmother’s ranch while he recovered from his injuries. To help with his recovery, he began to self-rehab by working with the horses on the ranch. His love for horses gave him the opportunity to go to school through a rodeo scholarship from the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA).
Between school and living on his family ranch, Primeaux met Michael Apted on the set of Thunderheart in South Dakota. Through this meeting, he landed a stunt role on Thunderheart and become eligible for access to the Union of the Screen Actors Guild.
Later, Robert moved to LA to begin his film career where he landed roles in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and a more prominent role in Rough Riders. This role as Indian Bob was special to Primeaux because the director John Milius specifically created it with him in mind.
Recently, Robert has been advocating for fallen service-members to be enshrines in the NFL Hall of Fame.
Throughout his life, through thick and thin, Primeaux credited the Four Cardinal Lakota Virtues for helping him recover from the Vietnam War and his car accident.
From childhood, Lakota Warriors were taught these four virtues. Primeaux stated that warriors who were taught the true meaning of these virtues learn to treat their Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Benjamin Breckheimer was a teenager when he watched 9/11 unfold. Like many other young Americans, the images spurred him into action. Right after high school, he enlisted in the Army as an operating room specialist.
The operating room is where Breckheimer served his comrades and met his closest mentor. As fate would have it, Breckheimer would end up on the operating table himself. Breckheimer received serious damages to his body after an improvised explosive device went off under the Stryker he was driving.
The road to recovery was a long one. Hopeless and angry at the world, Breckheimer’s life spiraled out of control to the point of suicidal thoughts. However, with the help of his family, mentor, and a strong support network, Breckheimer was able to get back on his feet.
To get better physically and also to challenge himself and others, Breckheimer started climbing. As time went on, his ascents grew to higher altitudes. To free himself from weight of the past , Breckheimer threw his problems off some of the highest peaks in the world. He is currently on track to be the first ever wounded combat veteran to climb the Seven Summits.
Breckheimer is now partnered with American300. American300 subject matter resiliency experts spend quality time with service members, offering not only their personal stories, but a knowing ear and shoulder heavy in experience. Working with military leadership, American300 tours place mentors in areas of operation repeatedly over the span of several years. Each return visit features different mentors who shed a light on making the impossible…possible.
When watching a movie, it’s easy to think that everything is real and true and lifelike. It's no surprise that that isn't always the case, especially with military movies. That's how Marine Veteran Dale Dye got involved. He wanted to tell Hollywood the right way to portray the military on screen.
Dye’s journey to becoming a military technical advisor started when he was a young man. He often overheard his father's inspiring World War II stories. He enlisted in the Marines after seeing a Marines poster.
In service, Dye became a combat correspondent and he often documented battles and life in the Marines during the Vietnam War. It was this experience that he later drew on to advise Hollywood film directors on how to accurately portray the military. His love for the military inspired him to influence the next generation through films, books, and even video games, so he created Warriors Inc. to provide Hollywood with technical advisors for all things military related.
As Dye discussed his experiences, he covered the following topics:
His military career in the Marines during the Vietnam War where he received three Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star with a Combat “V.”
His military consultant business Warriors Inc.
His 141 credits in film, television and video games.
His new projects.
His books and publishing company Warriors Publishing.
He emphasized the importance of not only having knowledge about what you are getting into but also knowing that there are people who have gone through the same thing as you that want to help support you.
Executive Director of the Veterans Benefits Administration’s (VBA) Appeals Management Office (AMO) and Army Veteran David McLenachen talks about the appeals modernization process.
McLenachen briefly discussed his service in the Army with counterintelligence. He later left the Army to pursue a career in law. He worked as law clerk for a federal judge before he eventually came to work at the VA.
Before becoming executive director of the VBA’s AMO, McLenachen acted as deputy under secretary for disability assistance. While in this position, he began helping the VBA improve their appeals system in order to better assist Veterans.
The Appeals Modernization Act took effect Feb. 19, 2019. Congress created the act in 2017 to help solve problems VBA had with appeals and claims. The act created three new ways to help Veterans submit appeals and get their results at a quicker pace:
Board of Veterans’ Appeals
McLenachen and the VBA continue to strive to find ways to improve the appeals process. You can reach them through Ask a Question on the Veterans Affairs website.
This week's Borne the Battle podcast features Marine Corps Veteran Chris Burke and the youngest head coach in NCAA Lacrosse, Mitch Shafer.
Burke discussed his service in the Marines, including his injury and recovery from an IED explosion in Afghanistan. However, Burke's real story begins on what he did after serving in Afghanistan.
When Burke left service, he went back to school, where he planned on joining the lacrosse program in hopes of playing with his younger brother. But his plans didn’t go the way he had hoped. Instead, he found a new sense of purpose, one that reminded him of the camaraderie that he experienced in the Marines. In time, that new sense of purpose led to Burke accepting the position of defensive coordinator at Maryville University.
CHRIS IS THE SECOND VETERAN NCAA COACH TO BE ON BORNE THE BATTLE: CLICK HEREFOR THE #BTBATTLE EPISODE WITH DUKE'S COACH KRZYZEWSKI
Now, at Maryville, with Shafer's help, Burke uses his Marine Corps leadership experience to to mentor and coach his college lacrosse players for more than just on the field. From visiting local VA hospitals to sending care packages overseas, Burke and Schafer lead the lacrosse team in bridging the military-civilian divide.
This week's Borne the Battle podcast features Dr. Albert Weed, whose career has taken him from enlisted Green Beret Army medic to an Army medical officer to VA surgeon. Weed discussed his name, and how his family’s military background and medical experiences led him to, among other things, peacekeeping in Egypt, swimming in Saddam Hussein's pool, and receiving four different DD-214s.
Weed traces his journey's beginnings from high school and later to Special Forces training, where he volunteered to work as a medic. It was during this training when he realized the medical field was where he wanted to be. He was inspired to become an Army medical doctor while doing his clinical. He had just finished a late shift helping labor and deliveries and was planning to take a nap when he was called to the operating room to help. After the operation, Weed went out for a run instead of taking his nap. In that moment, he realized he wanted to pursue a medical career.
Listen as Weed recounts his experiences in the military and medical fields and his current work serving Veterans as a surgeon with the Salem VA Medical Center.
Sometimes, all it takes is a whiteboard and a marker to jump-start a dream into reality. This week’s Borne the Battle features guest Jesse Iwuji, whose creative and hardworking mindset led him to overcome great challenges and become a NASCAR driver.
Growing up, Iwuji excelled at both track and football. His high school accomplishments led him to the Naval Academy's football team where he played safety. He graduated from the academy in 2010. After seven years active duty, Jesse transitioned to the Navy Reserve.
After his football career ended, Iwuji found competitiveness in racing. However, he was at a disadvantage compared to his peers who started racing at a very early age: Iwuji started in his mid 20’s. He lacked sponsorship and he wasn’t born into a racing family. Despite this, his determination and led him to a variety of open doors. He funded the first part of his NASCAR K&N racing career through a variety of ways to include starting his own business. Currently he is racing in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series.
Today, Iwuji represents sponsors from several different organizations, which many help Veterans. He uses racing as a platform to advocate for Veterans' rights and he shares his passion in Veteran communities and schools. To Jesse, nothing is impossible if you have vision and hard work behind it.
This week’s Borne the Battle episode features guest Jeff Struecker, who discusses his life as a soldier, pastor, and author.
In 1987, Struecker enlisted in the army when he was 18. He excelled, serving in the 75th Ranger Regiment, and he played a pivotal role in the Battle of Mogadishu. He also won the 1996 Best Ranger Competition and was also recognized in 1998 as the U.S Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Noncommisioned Officer of the Year.
After his time as a Ranger, Struecker received a commission as a chaplain in April 2000. He continued to serve as a chaplain for the next 11 years, eventually retiring in January 2011 after having served multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
After leaving service, Struecker became a pastor, and in his free time, he has participated in numerous films, written books and speaks to a variety of audiences about his faith and his time in service.
2019 marks the 40th Anniversary of VA's Vet Centers. They started as outreach for Vietnam Veterans who did not utilize the VA as much as WWII Veterans.
This week’s interview is Pennsylvania National Guard Veteran Michael Fisher who is the Senior Readjustment Counselor. He leads and has direct oversight of over 300 Vet Centers, 80 Mobile Vet Centers and the Vet Center Call Center. We broke it all down - how vet centers started, their differences between them and VA Medical Centers, their services and who is eligible.
On this week’s episode, Borne the Battle features guest Nathan Goncalves, who shares his story of struggle and perseverance.
While Goncalves didn’t have the intrinsic calling to join the military, he enlisted at 23, seeking reform and discipline. It was in the Army that Goncalves sharpened his focus and developed lifelong friendships and mentors.
However, Goncalves' transition back to civilian life was not easy. In fact, it turned out to be some of his lowest valleys--involving addiction, PTSD, and anger management.
But things started to change when Goncalves heard he was going to be a father. In this episode, he discusses how an intense work ethic allowed him to achieve a bachelor’s degree at UCLA in less than three years.
Goncalves applied to UCLA’s Law school to study corporate law. He was accepted, but a bitter divorce hampered those plans. Through his own experiences, Goncalves realized there was no advocacy for situations like his own. So he sacrificed a potentially lucrative corporate law career and switched to family law to offer services to homeless and low-income Veterans.
Goncalves is now hosted by Harriet BuHai Center for Family Law and sponsored in house by Equal Justice Works. He continues to fight for family integration for homeless and low-income Veterans as they transition back into the civilian communities.
For months, I’ve been promising a special bonus podcast episode for when Born the Battle received its 100th rating and/or review on iTunes.
We did it! But, before we get to Mel Brooks and the late Adrian Cronauer.
In five months, our listenership has increased 500%. You’ve allowed more Veterans, VA employees and civilians to hear these amazing stories and to take advantage of all the benefit breakdowns in our archives.
Sep 17, 2019
#162: September 11th with Dr. John Baxter - Air Force Veteran, 9/11 First Responder, SecDef's Flight Surgeon
On September 11, 2001, Air Force flight surgeon John Baxter showed up to work at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, to a full load of patients and completing physicals--just like any other day.
Halfway through his morning while getting his next patient, he saw that a civilian airliner had flown into one of the World Trade Center towers.
While with the patient, Baxter said he noticed the background noise in the Pentagon changed. It seemed quieter than usual. Then, he heard shouts. He opened his door and saw people running and shouting, and smoke in the hallway.
At first, Baxter didn't know if there was an explosion, a fire or some other event. Despite the unknowns, he assembled his team of flight surgeons, a nurse and medical technicians. They grabbed medical kits and traveled as a group. Their emergency plan was to meet up with other medics at the Pentagon's DiLorenzo Clinic.
Then they heard the news: there were casualties in corridor 5.
Baxter's team ran to the spot. They found Army Veteran Brian Birdwell, who was in excruciating pain from burns. It was a situation that Baxter was unexpectedly prepared for: Months earlier, in an emergency exercise, the flight clinic trained for the same scenario that unfolded on 9/11: a plane crashing into the Pentagon.
John Baxter still serves at the Pentagon, though now as a civilian flight surgeon. For this week's Born the Battle Podcast, Baxter details his story of 9/11 and the days that followed.
On this week’s episode of Borne the Battle, Tanner Iskra interviews guest Todd Boeding, who shares his past, present and future as a Marine Corps Veteran, as well as his involvement honoring Veterans through Carry the Load.
Born and raised in Texas, Boeding was always known to take unorthodox paths in life. He dabbled in college, left for the Marine Corps seeking structure and discipline, and eventually returned to finish up his degree at The University of Texas at Dallas.
Since leaving the Marine Corps in 2003, Boeding discussed the hardest part of the transition back to civilian life: finding a sense of belonging. Boeding was able to find his purpose of being part of something bigger through Carry the Load.
Carry the Load offers opportunities to learn how to care again and to do it in a way that meaningfully impacts the families who lost their loved ones. Currently, Carry the Load is partnering with the National Cemetery Association on September 11th to help maintain the dignity of cemeteries.
In episode 157, we spoke with Army Veteran Ursula Draper about her role in the development of an Assistive Technology (AT) program. In this week's Benefits Breakdown, we take a deeper dive into how this program works and who is able to access it.
The AT program will sound familiar to those who know Darwin’s Theory of Adaptation. The adaptation theory--also known as survival theory, or survival of the fittest--is an organism’s ability to adapt to changes in its environment and adjust accordingly. The Assistive Technology program helps Veterans to do just that.
The AT program, which began in 2008, aims to improve the lives of disabled Veterans by allowing them to maintain independence by completing everyday tasks. It helps Veterans with computer use and accessibility, voice activated technologies, drive control for wheelchairs, and even giving them the ability to turn lights on and off.
VA created four main hubs for instructing those granted into the program: Minneapolis, MN; Tampa, Fl; Richmond, VA; and Palo Alto, CA.
School. Military. Streets. In 1996, Curtez Riggs graduated high school and those were his options in Flint, Michigan. By that time, the auto industry that built “Buick City” had moved away. As a kid, Curtez picked up bottles, turned in cans and always had a side gig to bring in extra money. When it came time to make the decision, Curtez figured the Army was the best way to start his future.
His entrepreneurship did not stop when he joined the Army. Curtez continuously started businesses outside of his day job as a career recruiter. In this episode, you will hear how Curtez prepared for his military transition - years before he ended his active service.
Currently, Curtez is the CEO of the Military Influencer Conference (MIC). Started in 2016, the conference is a community of entrepreneurs, influencers, creatives, executives, and leaders who are connected to the military community. Curtez said he sees the conference as a mentorship and connection hub for future and current military Veterans looking to make the military transition with an entrepreneurial mindset. This year’s conference is in Washington, D.C., Sept. 8-10. Starting in 2020, the conference will be placed in a different region each year.
The conference has certain tracks attendees can follow:
This week’s Borne the Battle interview is with Army Iraq War Veteran, David Gowel, a West Point and Ranger School graduate who later became an assistant professor at MIT’s ROTC program. David is currently the CEO of RallyPoint, a military-themed social media network. Which begs the question: just how does a former armor platoon leader become the CEO for a social media company? And, with a crowded social landscape that includes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat and others, why would anyone join yet another social media network?
This week’s guest lays out his case. In the interview, he also shares tips and pointers for expanding your own social media network.
RallyPoint is a social media network that caters to the active duty and Veteran experience. In the interview, David explains how partnering with VA’s Veteran Experience Office has enabled RallyPoint to organize discussions and “Command Post” messages around VA's Veteran’s Journey Map, which portrays the life stage moments--and VA experiences--that Veterans typically experience.
Currently there are 1.7 million RallyPoint members, many of whom, in addition to active duty and Veterans, are family members, caregivers, civilian recruiters, and VA and DoD civilians.
Draper, an Army Veteran, spent six years working as an ophthalmic technician at Martin Army Hospital at Fort Benning, Georgia. Using her GI Bill, Ursula received her bachelor's degree in Occupational Therapy from East Carolina University. She then operated her own private practice in Orlando, Florida, for over 20 years, specializing in Sensory Integration and pediatrics. Wanting to give back to the Veterans, she then pursued a career in the Veterans Health Administration working with spinal cord injuries. In 2009, she began working at the Veterans Administration, specializing in spinal cord injury and traumatic brain Injuries.
The Assistive Technology program tries to meet Veteran needs. The program finds adaptive ways for Veterans to access their environment, such as turning on lights or accessing computers. Specific areas of AT intervention include:
Mobility Assistive Equipment
Adapted Computer Access
Electronic Aids to Daily Living/Environmental Control Units
If you have a Facebook or Instagram account, you either follow this week's guest or have seen his work shared on your social media feed. This week’s Borne The Battle episode interview is with Marine Veteran Daniel Sharp, the Chief Executive Officer of PopSmoke Media and podcast host of The Smokepit.
Sharp talks about his transition from the Marine Corps after 11 years of service as an infantryman to starting his own media company, to developing his podcast. We also go into his personal relationship with his local VA Medical Center. He said his experience with Veterans Affairs started out difficult, but he worked to hold himself accountable to identify solutions and make sure the care worked for him. Sharp also talks about the stress of combat and the support network that can help mitigate those stresses.
Currently, his podcast has listeners in 55 different countries.
Back in episode 43, Gary gave his original testimony on Borne the Battle.
This week’s Borne The Battle episode provides an update from the Senior Director of Military Programs at Walmart on the hiring initiatives through the company and the Walmart Foundation donating $1 million to Hire Heroes USA.
Profit worked as a defense contractor before hearing of the Walmart opportunity through a retiree network contact. He met with Walmart officials and became the first person to serve in his role—a role that has now spanned a decade. He plans on retiring by the end of this year.
Initially, Walmart wanted to hire 100,000 Veterans through its Veterans Welcome Home Commitment, but later doubled the commitment to 250,000 by the end of 2020. To date, Walmart has hired more than 226,000 Veterans since Memorial Day 2013.
Walmart is also trying to help with the disproportionate unemployment of military spouses, giving hiring preference to spouses who seek employment at Walmart or Sam’s Club through the Military Spouse Career Connection, which started Nov. 12, 2018.
Hire Heroes USA empowers U.S. military members, veterans and military spouses to succeed in the civilian workforce.
The VA Center of Faith’s and Opportunity Initiative’s mission is “engage, inform and educate faith-based, nonprofit and community/neighborhood organizations in VA programs to better serve the needs of Veterans, their families, survivors, caregivers and other beneficiaries.” Basically, VA understands that sometimes, the clergy is the best way to reach a Veteran. Therefore, VA set up a resource for local clergy so they can be the one to tell the Veteran what is available to them.
The current leader spearheading this initiative is the acting director of VA Center of Faith and Opportunity Initiative, Conrad Washington. In this episode he breaks down how your local clergy can get involved with the program. Through partnerships, resources and outreach events, the Center of Faith currently have multiple ways for faith-based leaders to get involved.
In addition, he breaks down his own career. Conrad is a former Marine Corps administrator and drill instructor. After leaving service, Conrad went from a security guard to specializing in security education as an Information Security Specialist for the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency – in the same building. Currently in seminary school, he explains how his career combined with his faith eventually landed him in the VA Secretary’s Office and into his current role as the acting director for the VA Center of Faith and Opportunity Initiative.
Perry Firoz is smart. Not just Air Force smart, but “can I copy off your paper,” smart.
Perry degrees include:
Master’s Degree, Operations Research – Advanced Mathematical Applications, George Mason
Bachelor of Applied Science – Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science, Wichita State University
Bachelor of Science, Music Performance, Theory, Composition, University of Nebraska
He was an Analytical Scientist for the Air Force. A lot of this episode is trying to figure out what an analytical scientist does, and I think we have it figured out. His entire job was to figure out how to make the Air Force more efficient. Where another service (ahem, Marine Corps) would contract a solution, the Air Force paid Perry to figure out how to fix logjams in career progression education systems.
Since he left active duty, Perry has continued military analytical research for the Rand Corporation. He is also taking what he has learned to become an entrepreneur. Returning to his first love, music, Perry moved out to Los Angeles and started Epic Music LA. Epic Music LA is a music licensing company. They work with experienced composers to create a library that films and television shows, post-production companies, sports/news media, public relations and advertising agencies can license. They have recently signed deals with CBS, MLB and NHL Networks.
In episode 138, Sean Ricks mentioned a nonprofit called Camp Valor Outdoors. It’s a nonprofit that helps ill, injured and wounded active duty, veterans and their family members. They do this by taking them on fishing, hunting, shooting, archery, four-wheeling and camping. They believe that “healing in the great outdoors…and connecting with fellow warriors is therapeutic and essential to healing.” Nobody is paid on staff and each dollar is spent on the programs that they host.
Although the nonprofit operates out of Kingsville, MO, Camp Valor’s competitive shooting program is located nearby DC in Fairfax. When I found that out, we linked up and I went to shooting clinic and a couple of matches to see what they are all about.
This week we interviewed Camp Valor Outdoors’ Chief Operating Officer, Army Veteran retired Colonel Denise Loring. She is a world class competitive shooter, having shot in a CMP and NRA Nationals, USA Olympic Trials (Air Rifle), and World Championships. We talked about Camp Valor's mission, Denise being recruited to the Army specifically for shooting, what else she did in her 29+ year career, her transition out, and how she came to find a home with Camp Valor Outdoors.
This week we share two more WWII Veteran’s stories that the gentlemen were gracious enough to share over the weekend.
Walter Stitt was a part of General Patton’s 3rd Armored Division. As an M4 Sherman Tank Gun Loader, he saw time in Normandy, Northern France, the Rhineland Campaigns and he was one of the first tanks to cross the Siegfried Line – receiving a Purple Heart in the process. Later Walter became a pastor and gave the closing remarks to the final 3rd Armored Division Association’s reunion in 2010.
Victor Maurelli is a WWII and Korean War Veteran. He was a Navy Frogman from the early 1940s to 1955. During WWII, Victor served in Guam, Philippines and during the Battle of Midway. Frogmen were underwater demolition-men and are the forefathers to the current Navy SEAL teams. Frogmen were responsible for diving underwater and destroying defensive barriers before an amphibious landing. Frogmen served in both the European and Pacific Theatres. During WWII Weekend, Victor spent some time with Borne the Battle and shared some of his incredible stories.
On June 22, VA will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the G.I. Bill. In honor of this historic event, Army Veteran Maxine Henry and Air Force Veteran Mark Connors of the VA’s Loan Guaranty Service team sat down with Borne the Battle to discuss one of the best and most popular Veteran benefits--the VA home loan entitlement.
It was WWII Weekend in Reading, PA. For three days, the MidAtlantic Air Museum brings WWII Veterans, reenactors and a full air show to their community. You can step back in time to every major theatre, visit friendly and enemy camps, hear 1940s music, and even see an FDR impersonator.
More importantly, WWII Days include an impressive VIP guest list. Over twenty-five WWII Veterans attend every year and recount their experiences. This year included two living survivors of Pearl Harbor.
Richard (Dick) Schimmel was one of the first soldiers to ever be a radar tech. He enlisted in 1940 and was shipped out to Hawaii to form new formed Signal Aircraft Warning unit. He wasn’t on duty but was stationed on Pearl Harbor during the attack. When he realized the island was under attack, he ran to his post.
William Bonelli was an enlisted B-17 and B-29 mechanic at Hickam Field when the attacks occurred. In 1944, he got his opportunity to fly the “Flying Fortress” as a pilot, flying 30 missions over Italy (21 as squadron leader) and receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions.
Enjoy both of these unique accounts of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
David talks about becoming a Green Beret, being attached to a MIKE Force in Vietnam, being a security contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan as a 55-60 year old man, and helping advocate to reform Arizona's university system to work friendlier with the GI Bill and the VA system.
One couple, Marine Veteran Brett D’Alessandro and his partner, Alexa Modero, have made it their mission to help those Veterans that find themselves with nothing but a backpack. In fact, with the nonprofit,Backpacks for Lifethe first thing they are doing isliterallyimproving thebackpacksthat rest onhomeless Veterans shoulders.
After deploying to Afghanistan in 2014 and exiting his Marine Reserve contract, Brett started experiencing the same problems many Veterans face after deployment. After serving honorably as a turret gunner in country, he found himself without purpose. He was filling the emptiness with unhealthy habits. However, after randomly providing a homeless Veteran with a backpack that allowed the Veteran’s child to have a pack for school, Brett again found a call to serve those that were in need. Upon learning this, his long-time girlfriend Alexa, began supporting his new purpose. Together they founded the nonprofitBackpacks for Life.
They have since patented their very own pack that is created specifically with the homeless veteran in mind.The Bowery Packfeatures the old sea-bag opening, a stainless cable closing and an iso mat. Their goal is to go to a one-for-one sale model. For each Bowery Pack sold, they can give one to a homeless Veteran.
However, Brett and Alexa believe that the pack is only the first step to getting off the streets. Theiroverall mission“is to provide Veterans with resources that they have trouble providing for themselves…at the same time fostering self-reliance while assisting Veterans through their hardships…”
Additionally, we talked about how Brett and Alexa met, Brett’s deployment, and how they can afford to make the Bowery Pack in the United States.
Not only is Army Veteran Jan a wrestler, he’s a producer of the documentary “Valhalla Club.” The feature documents how three wrestlers, including Jan, formed a wrestling stable based on collectively fighting their PTSD through wrestling.
Recently, Jan and his stablemates were featured on the first episode Comedy Central’s new show, “Klepper.”
Additionally, Jan is a VA employee. We talked about his role in the Office of Business Process Integration.
For Borne the Battle, we have a small team of interns that transcribe previous episodes so those with hearing loss can still read our episodes. It is finals week for many universities around the country and we will be soon losing that important cog of our team.
So, before our interns left for the year, I wanted to reward them with their own episode. We had our intern, aspiring podcaster Zach Wheeler, go and get another interview.
Back in episode 130, Zach interviewed Robert Freedman, his professor from Johns Hopkins University. For his “final” we challenged him to go find an interview off his campus. From there, he took the ball, ran with it, and interviewed Joseph Pennington, a former Navy Seabee and the current Director of Military Programs for AllState.
Joseph talks about how his grandfather, a WWII Veteran, inspired him to raise his right hand. He also talks about his transition, his experience in building military programs for various companies, and how that experience led him to his current role at AllState.
FBI, CIA, AFT…USPIS? It’s not an alphabet agency that is often brought up in conversation around DC Beltway. However, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service was founded almost 100 years prior to the FBI and almost 150 years before the CIA. Their mission is to “support and protect the U.S. Postal Service, its employees, infrastructure, and customers by enforcing the laws that defend the nation's mail system from illegal or dangerous use.”
Today’s guest is a current U.S. Postal Inspector and Marine Veteran Carroll Harris. He is the first guest to reach out to ask to be on the show, so he can get information out to Veterans. Operation Protect Veterans is an effort by the Postal Inspection Service to prevent crimes andscams within the mail system that are targeting the Veteran population.
In addition, Carroll is a historian in the Marine Corps Reserve. He is attached to the Marine Corps History Division and is tasked with going on deployments to record Marine Corps history in times of conflict. In the episode, he covers how he was “drafted” into the history division in Kuwait, right before the Marine Corps crossed the Kuwaiti-Iraqi border during 2003’s Operation Enduring Freedom.
Bonus episode! This episode is an experiment of a sorts. I attended a Veteran/ military spouse networking event called BourBiz. It was held this last Thursday by The Veteran Success Resource Group at the MGM, National Harbor, Maryland.
I was told about this event by future guests, Brett D’Allesandroand Alexa Modero the founders of the non profit, Backpacks For Life. They were part of a veteran-owned-business pitch competition that was going to be held at the event. Placing2nd,theywereawarded $15,000.
Again, this was last Thursday and I didn’t know about it until the day prior. Within 24 hours I was hooked up with a booth. So with little time to plan, I brought my gear and figured to catch something. I set up, did two interviews - and I didn’t think I captured anything. It was loud and they were having a live auction right next to me. So, I shut down my operation and just took the whole thing in. However, when I went home, I learned that the quality wasn’t too bad. So, what you're going to hear is what I was able to capture. If you would like to hear more episodes like this (with more content) please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Danny Chung is an positive example of a Veteran that found a way to give back to the transitioning active-duty community.
Danny’s team is trying to do is fill a gap in the civilian workforce. At any given time, there are over 500,000 open jobs in the computer industry. The current education system is producing only49,000computer science majors a year. Danny’s goal is to fill the gap with a portion of the 250,000 service-members that leave active dutyevery year.
One solution is theMicrosoft Software and Systems Academy(MSSA). It is an 18-week course that active duty can take on base towards the end of their service. They offer training in high demand fields like cloud development, cloud administration, cybersecurity, databases and business intelligence administration. In addition, graduates areguaranteedan interview with Microsoft or an industry partner. There are currently 15 military bases that offer the MSSA.
Currently, Danny’s biggest drive is to help military spouses find gainful employment in the technology industry. The Military Spouse Technology Academy is an effort by Danny’s team to combat the military spouse 18% unemployment and 53% underemployment rates.
In addition, we talk about his service, difficulties transitioning during the Great Recession, and his feelings on artificial intelligence taking over the planet.
Navy VeteranJennifer Marshalljoins us on the show.Since transitioning from active duty, she’s been hustling out in Hollywood.
She’s a veteran of somemovies and showsyou may have seen:
“A Dog’s Way Home”
Most notably, she’san actress, but she also hosts red carpets, hosts shows, models and volunteers for various causes in and around the area.
Jennifer talks about why she joined the Navy and why she had to exit earlier than she anticipated. She also talks about her husband’s transition and trying to bridge the military-civilian divide.She also shared how the military community in Hollywood helped her gain her sea-legs as she started on this new journey.
Finally, we discussed how a military mindset can help you achieve your goals, the misadventures of motion capture for her first (and probably last) video game, and current volunteer projects that she is passionate about. Enjoy.
In this episode, Sean talks about his unique military career. Starting out as a merchant marine and as a reservist, Sean explains how he switched between a couple of different occupational specialties before coming onto active duty as a Naval Intelligence Officer.
We also break down Sean’s transition from the Navy, and how he started a business on active duty and turned it into a $500,000 revenue-generating business within six years.
I love finding Veterans who are out there working to bridge the military-civilian divide. This week’s guest is continuing to serve by connecting Veterans to communities as the military relations manager at the second largest private company in the United States.
While in the Army, John Buckley, II was an infantry commander for soldiers in combat and peacekeeping operations. In addition, he directed two of the Army’s top schools. Commissioning as a 2nd lt. in the reserves at the age of 19, John began serving in the Kansas Army National Guard, eventually earning a regular army commission. He is a graduate of the Infantry Basic and Advanced Courses, the Army Command and General Staff College, the School of Advanced Military Studies, the Armed Forces Staff College and the Army War College, receiving a special degree in national security policy. John also holds a master’s in military arts and sciences and a master’s in military science.
Today, John teaches transition courses, gives presentations, writes about the military career transition, and continues to mentor current and former military service-members.
Furthermore, John is involved in the local Veteran community of Wichita, KS as the:
Currently, the boards' current focus is on Veteran unemployment and homelessness. Their future goals are to create a Veteran-friendly medical transportation system.
John is also a board member of the non-profit, Passageways. They battle Veteran homelessness within and around the city of Wichita. For their Phase II, Passageways is looking to develop a 30 home community focusing on providing homes for the local female veteran community and their families.
Tanner’s first guest is Emmy award winning director of photography and cinematographer, Rick Robinson, who was a huge influence on Tanner’s career. In this episode, Rick shares his experiences on his deployments, drops knowledge on how he broke into Hollywood without knowing a soul, lets us in on how teaching film changed his life’s pursuits and tells us how he ended up in the South Pacific for over seven years. Rick also shares his journey back to the Marine Corps, and how he currently spends his time developing the next crops of military visual information specialists.
This episode is a humbling one for me. Episode 134 is the last episode I will produce as the host of Borne the Battle. I launched the podcast in 2016 under the title "This Week at VA," renamed it Borne The Battle about a year later, and have interviewed an impressive set of Veterans and their loved ones. However, while I may be moving on from the podcast, the podcast is remaining and will be hosted by a newer member of my team, Tanner Iskra.
Tanner Iskra is a United States Marine Corps Veteran who served as an intel analyst in OIF III and later as a combat videographer/photographer. During his military career he deployed to OIF III as well as Romania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Germany, France, Spain as part of the Black Sea Rotational Force. After leaving active duty, Tanner was a Senior Post Production Editor with NASCAR Productions. Tanner is a graduate of the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and Media Studies and holds a Certificate in Military Motion Media from the Newhouse School of Journalism at Syracuse University. Joining the Department of Veteran’s Affairs in October 2018, Tanner is a video producer with the Digital Media Engagement team focusing on producing, editing and shooting content that tells the Veteran’s story.
Tanner joins the show so we may learn about his service, his creativity, and his vision for the podcast moving forward.
Feb 27, 2019
#133: Joel Chaverri – Marine Veteran, Vet Center Director
Vet Centers are one of VA's most valuable and crucial resources. Vet Centers are community-based counseling centers that provide a wide range of social and psychological services, including professional readjustment counseling to eligible Veterans, active duty service members, including National Guard and Reserve components, and their families. Readjustment counseling is offered to make a successful transition from military to civilian life or after a traumatic event experienced in the military. Individual, group, marriage and family counseling is offered in addition to referral and connection to other VA or community benefits and services. Vet Center counselors and outreach staff, many of whom are Veterans themselves, are experienced and prepared to discuss the tragedies of war, loss, grief and transition after trauma.
While I was in Dallas, visited the Vet Center in Arlington, TX and sat down with Vet Center Director Joel Chaverri for an interview. Joel tells us about his time in the Marine Corps, his path to becoming a social worker, and what everyone needs to know about how Vet Centers serve Veterans and their families.
Feb 08, 2019
#132: Brent Thompson – Navy Veteran, Head Brewer at Texas Ale Project
Since I joined VA in April 2016, we have avoided alcohol themed content in our production. However, with so many Veterans involved in the industry through craft beer, distilling, wineries, and more, I decided it was time to feature a Veteran inside the industry. Brent Thompson is a Navy Veteran and Head Brewer at Texas Ale Project in the City of Dallas. I originally visited his establishment as part of the Military Influencers Conference. When I returned to Dallas a year later, I knew I wanted to interview him about going from Navy to co-founding a successful brewery.
Brent sat down with me in his tap room to record our interview. Over his shoulder I could see a tap handle designed in digital camouflage that read "Good to Go," the name of his pale ale. Though subtle, signals like that are evidence of a culture transcending one's life, bringing vernacular from the past into the present.
Brent spoke to me about his decision to enlist in the Navy, the major influence his father had on him, and the journey he's been on founding a successful brewery.
Back in October I interviewed Ozzy Ramirez, an Army Veteran that is pursuing an acting career in Hollywood. Ozzy's interview got buried in a swarm of interviews conducted in that time span and I just discovered it again last week. When I went back to listen to it, I remembered how great of an interview it was and how valuable it is for us to hear stories like his.
Ozzy joins Borne the Battle to discuss his time in the military, which allowed him to not only help support his family, but also become a U.S. citizen, and his bold decision to head to Hollywood in pursuit of the silver screen. You can see Ozzy's full body of work on his page at IMDB.
This week we have a unique episode. One of my interns, Zach Wheeler, conducted an interview with one of his professors at Johns Hopkins University. Zach is a sophomore and is studying International Studies. His professor, Robert O. Freedman, is an adjunct professor at Zach's university. Mr. Freedman served during the Vietnam War and joins Borne the Battle to discuss a great leader he had in the military, his philosophy on giving your country two years of service, and his career in academia which includes time at West Point.
Jan 16, 2019
#129: Student Veteran of the Year, Air Force Veteran Alexandria Sawin
Our week of podcasts focused on student Veterans is coming to a close. On Monday, we spoke with Student Veterans of America president Jared Lyon. Then, Tuesday through Thursday we had a conversation with three groups of Student Veteran of the Year finalists. Today, we feature the 2018 Student Veteran of the Year, Alexandria Sawin. Alex is the president of the UNLV Rebel Veterans Organization at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She speaks with us about her service in the Air Force, becoming a leader in her community, organizing a ruck march across the state of Nevada, and her best practices in her student Veteran chapter.
Jan 11, 2019
#128: Student Veteran of the Year finalists Angela Peacock, Kyle Venable and Carlos Caro
Today, we continue our discussions with Student Veterans of America’s Student Veteran of the Year finalists. This episode features Angela Peacock, Kyle Venable, and Carlos Caro. We learn about their chapter’s success in 2018, their philosophy on outreach, and how to include other military personnel on campus.
Jan 10, 2019
#127: Student Veteran of the Year finalists Chanel Powell and Tyler Freeman
Today, we continue our discussions with Student Veterans of America's Student Veteran of the Year finalists. This episode features Chanel Powell and Tyler Freeman. We learn about their chapter's success in 2018, their philosophy on outreach, and how to include other military personnel on campus.
Chanel is a paralegal specialist in the New York Army National Guard for the past 3 years and continues to serve. She deployed with the 1156th Engineer Company to Kuwait and Iraq in 2016-2017. Promptly after returning home from deployment she started her first semester at the University at Buffalo just last spring. During her first semester she was elected SVA chapter President and the following semester they became nationally recognized within the Student Veterans of America, making their chapter one of the newest. Her plan is to continue her education in law school a little over a year from now.
Tyler was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and joined the United States Marine Corps in 2008. He was stationed in the Carolinas shortly thereafter with military occupations primarily involving helicopter squadrons as an Aviation Maintenance Supervisor and a CH-53E Helicopter Crew Member.
After 5 ½ years of service and three deployments (2 to Northeast Africa and 1 to Afghanistan), Tyler received an honorable discharge from the Marine Corps in April of 2014 to pursue undergraduate studies at University of North Carolina at Greensboro. While enrolled, he held a concurrent full-time position at Ameriprise Financial in various operations and project management roles. He completed a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (Magna Cum Laude) at UNC Greensboro in December, 2017. Tyler then relocated to Atlanta after he was accepted to Emory University’s Goizueta Business School & Emory Law School, where he began the full-time MBA/JM Dual Degree program in August 2018.
Jan 09, 2019
#126: Student Veteran of the Year finalists David Cote, Katherine Pratt, and Wesley Wilson
Each year, Student Veterans of America selects a "Student Veteran of the Year." They receive hundreds of submissions for consideration and narrow the field down to ten finalists. Year after year, these ten finalists prove to be exceptional individuals. I had the opportunity to sit down with the finalists this year and talk to them about the success they've had with their respective chapters and on their campuses. Today's group of student Veterans include David Cote, Katherina Pratt, and Wesley Wilson.
Jan 08, 2019
#125: Jared Lyon - President of SVA's interview from #NatCon2019
I just returned from the 2019 Student Veterans of America (SVA) National Conference (NatCon). It was my fourth conference in five years. I've been to two as a student Veteran, and two on behalf of VA. Each year this gathering proves to be more powerful than the last. SVA saw a 30% attendance boost since last year's conference, hosting more than 2,300 student Veterans and stakeholders. The three-day event featured keynotes from Secretary Robert Wilkie, Medal of Honor recipient Ryan Pitts, and President of SVA, Jared Lyon.
Jared has been on the podcast a few times in the past, including a sit-down I had with him at last year's NatCon. Each time he speaks with us, he has the same passion and excitement about the success of student Veterans as he did the time before.
In this year's interview, that we recorded at NatCon 2019, Jared shares what it means for SVA to be "left of bang," tells us about the amazing group of Student Veteran of the Year finalists, and what SVA's priority in 2019.
Jan 07, 2019
#124: Nick Armstrong – Army Veteran, Senior Director of Research and Policy at IVMF
Nick began his career as an Army field artillery officer upon graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 2000. In the Army, he served seven years on active duty, including nearly three years deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Bosnia with the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), during which he received two Bronze Star Medals and the Combat Action Badge, among other commendations. In addition, Nick served as a speechwriter to the commanding general of the 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum, NY, as well as aide-de-camp to the division’s deputy commanding general. Nick is also a graduate of the U.S. Army Airborne, Air Assault, and Ranger Schools.
Serving in his current role since 2014, Nick developed and leads a multi-disciplinary team comprised of social, behavioral, and data scientists, student analysts, and an extended network of affiliated scholars and experts. He manages a broad portfolio of sponsored research, program measurement, and evaluation efforts to inform the social, economic, wellness, and related policy concerns of the nation’s veterans and their families. In addition, Nick is responsible for the IVMF’s data analytics, quality, and decision support activities that guide the Institute’s operations to serve, annually, more than 20,000 veterans and family members nationwide and abroad.
Nick joins Borne the Battle to discuss his experience in the Army, his efforts at IVMF, and some key research from the institute that provides essential information on transitioning Veterans.
Every once in a while I'm pleasantly surprised to discover that someone famous is a Veteran. A couple months ago, a story came out about William Daniels when he fended off an intruder in his house. When I saw his age, I wondered if he served in World War II. Sure enough, I learned that he spent a couple years in Italy shortly after the bomb dropped in Hiroshima. So, naturally, I wanted to speak to him about his service and invited him to join me on Borne the Battle.
Many of you probably recognize him as the voice of KITT on Knight Rider, Dr. Craig on St. Elsewhere, and, the role he's most commonly recognized for, Mr. Feeny on Boy Meets World.
Mr. Daniels and his wife Bonnie joined me for a short phone interview to share his experiences as a drafted soldier in World War II, using the G.I. Bill to attend Northwestern University, being a recognized actor, and how important his relationship with Bonnie has been through it all.
Dec 05, 2018
#122: Sarah Verardo – Caregiver, CEO of Independence Fund
To round of National Caregivers Month, we feature Sarah Verardo. Sarah is the CEO of Independence Fund and a caregiver for her husband, an Army Veteran. Sarah also authored the children's book, Hero at Home.
Founded in 2007, The Independence Fund is committed to empowering our nation’s catastrophically wounded, injured, or ill Veterans to overcome physical, mental, and emotional wounds incurred in the line of duty. We are dedicated to improving the lives of both our Veterans and their families. Through our Mobility, Caregiver, Adaptive Sports, Advocacy, and Family programs, The Independence Fund strives to bridge the gap of unmet needs for Veterans and their caregivers.
Sarah also recently announced Independence Fund's new program, Operation Resiliency. The program will team with VA to host suicide prevention reunion retreats with the Veterans of high suicide rate military units.
Sarah joins this week's podcast to discuss her experience as her husband's caregiver and her efforts at Independence Fund.
Nov 28, 2018
#121 Veterans Legacy Program: Terence Patrick Halligan
Today's podcast features a Veteran spotlighted by NCA's Veterans Legacy Program.
Kenneth Holliday, who joined us on episode 106, joins us today for the unofficial debut of Veterans Legacy Program podcast. Today, he tells us about Terrence Halligan.
Terence Patrick Halligan was born in Northern Ireland on April 3, 1922. He is an Army Air Corps Veteran of World War II. During a combat mission over Italy, his plane was shot down and Halligan was never found.
Visit cem.va.gov/legacy for more or follow @VANatCemeteries on Twitter.
Nov 23, 2018
#120: Liz Rotenberry – Caregiver, Elizabeth Dole Foundation Fellows Programs Coordinator
Everyone needs a break from time to time. Borne the Battle - and, more importantly, its host - decided to take a short break from production. It's been a month since our last episode was published, but I was still recording interviews in that span of time. A couple of the interviews I did were with caregivers. With November being National Caregivers Month, and with this week being Thanksgiving, I decided to bring the podcast back to full form with two episodes featuring caregivers. Not only to spotlight their efforts, but to show our gratitude for the role they play in Veterans' lives.
First up is Liz Rotenberry. Liz joined me at VA Central Office after the Elizabeth Dole Foundation showed interest in collaborating on a podcast. I didn't know much about Liz before we started the interview, but by the end of it I felt I had just recorded one of the more valuable interviews in the podcast's two year history.
Liz, is a military caregiver for her husband, a Marine Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom & Operation Enduring Freedom Veteran. As an Elizabeth Dole Fellow Alumna, Liz works to advocate not only for herself and her family, but for all Military and Veteran Caregivers. Liz joined the Elizabeth Dole Foundation as their Caregiver Community Program Coordinator and is now the Foundation’s Fellows Program Coordinator.
Prior to becoming a military caregiver, Liz graduated from the University of Delaware with a BAS in Art and Art History. Liz worked in the architectural field as a designer for schools, medical, offices to government and military facilities, including the test sites on Proving Grounds in Arizona. The work Liz experienced with the Proving Grounds in Arizona provided an eye opening experience to what our Military train for in real life theater every day. Liz is honored to have been a part of the training and implementation of the Joint Experimentation Range Complex. It is important for Liz to represent not only the Veteran but especially the Caregiver.
Liz and I talk about being a military spouse during her husband's service and how she experienced transition when her husband separated from the military. That, plus plenty of insight on her role as a caregiver.
Nov 21, 2018
#119: Elliott McKenzie – Marine Veteran, R&B artist
After a short break, Borne the Battle is back. This week we bring on Marine Veteran Elliott McKenzie.
After returning home from a deployment to Ramadi, Iraq, Elliott started showing signs of having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). By 2008, his symptoms were spiraling out of control. He had severe anger, depression, anxiety, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and hyper awareness. It was severely affecting his life and the lives of those around him. By 2009, his PTSD was so bad that he ended up homeless. After sleeping in his car for a period of time, he applied to a veteran's homeless facility in Long Beach, CA.
Elliott soon after got connected with VA and began his long road to recovery. That road to recovery included creating music, which he used as a coping mechanism and as a way to express himself.
He joins us on this week's podcast to discuss his time in the Marines, the difficulties of his transition, and how his music career has been so powerful in his recovery.
Oct 10, 2018
#118: 'Back to School' round table featuring Jared Lyon, EJ Delpero, and Kirsten Battocchio
September means back to school, even for Veterans. Being a student Veteran on campus is a unique experience. Student Veterans are typically older than traditional students, they have more life experience, and they can even have families at home. One resource available for student Veterans on campus is student Veterans group, often an official club with officials and board members. These groups can be great places for Veterans to gain friends, have a community, and get connected with more resources on campus.
This week's podcast celebrates going back to school. Our three panelists discuss their experiences and what they've learned as best practices for Veterans themselves and the clubs they're a part of.
I'm joined by the President of Student Veterans of America, Jared Lyon, the president of Mason Veteran Patriots at George Mason University, EJ Delpero, and last year's Student Veteran of the Year Finalist, Kirsten Battocchio. EJ and Kirsten bring their own perspectives and Jared compliments with SVA's guidance and insight.
Sep 19, 2018
#117: James McDonough – Army Veteran, IVMF's Managing Director for Programs and Services
About 30 episodes ago, we spoke with Michael Haynie, the Founder & Executive Director for the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University. The IVMF is higher education’s first interdisciplinary academic institute, singularly focused on advancing the lives of the nation’s military veterans and their families. This episode, we hear from Mike's colleague, James McDonough, managing director of programs and services for IVMF.
James tells us about his service in the Army, a great leader he served under, and the decision to begin transition out of the military so he could care for family. Then, we learn about two powerful programs worked on at IVMF: AmericaServes and Onward to Opportunity. AmericaServes is the country’s first coordinated system of public, private, and non-profit organizations working together to serve Veterans, transitioning service-members, and their families. Onward to Opportunity is a free, comprehensive career training, certification and employment program designed to launch you into your next career with over 30 industry-recognized career tracks and courses.
IVMF is a highly respected organization in the Veteran community, and James does a great job adding on to what we originally learned from Mike. Enjoy!
Music is a great way to communicate one's feelings and cope with experiences. Veterans have been using music in these same ways as a way to come to terms with some feelings they have and to tell their audience their story.
Petey Ace is a Marine Corps Veteran and a hip hop artists based out of Los Angeles. He joins Borne the Battle to talk about a recent song he did to express those feelings, and how he has joined a group of Veterans that are using basic camaraderie to reconnect with fellow Veterans. We also talk about his time in the Marine Corps and his thoughts on fatherhood.
Aug 22, 2018
#115: JJ Pinter - Army Veteran, Executive Director of Team RWB
Back in December of 2016, we featured Army Veteran Blayne Smith on the podcast. At the time, he was Executive Director of Team RWB. That was episode 11. He has since moved on to the GORUCK team, and here on episode 115, we are featuring he successor, and good friend, JJ Pinter. JJ is also an Army Veteran who joined shortly before September 11.
JJ will share his story of military service and tell us about the wonderful soldiers he served with, but the real value in this interview comes from his insight as Team RWB's second official employee. He's been with Team RWB for quite some time and in the Veteran space even longer. He shares his perspective on serving Veterans' post-military needs, measuring the impact his organization is making on Veteran, how his staff focuses on their mission, and other valuable thoughts that only someone in his position can have.
JJ Pinter is the Executive Director of Team Red, White, and Blue. As Team RWB’s 2nd employee, he has played a key role the development, growth, and operation of the organization. JJ works closely with board members, staff, and volunteer leaders to ensure the delivery of excellent programs that deliver impact. He provides strategic guidance in addition to building and managing critical partnerships.
JJ is a West Point graduate and combat veteran, serving as a Field Artillery officer. After his military service, he held both leadership and analytical positions in the construction, defense and medical industries. He currently resides outside Louisville, KY with his wife and 3 kids, where he loves to coach youth sports and be outdoors with his family.
Aug 01, 2018
#114: Bennie Adkins – Army Veteran, Medal of Honor recipient
I've been podcasting for more than five years. I look forward to each interview, because I love hearing new perspectives and unique stories of life and service. There are some interviews that truly get me excited, like this week's with Medal of Honor recipient Bennie Adkins. Bennie was in Washington, D.C. for the MLB All Star Game and to do some media for his new book A Tiger Among Us. While he was in town, he swung by VA Central Office for an interview to be featured on Borne the Battle.
Bennie's Medal of Honor citation has more action in it than most war movies. He was in battle for 38 hours and was escaping for another 48. In that time frame, he sustained 18 wounds. He fought the North Vietnamese with mortars, machine guns, recoilless rifles, small arms, and hand grenades. There is no type of Veteran that deserves the designation "hero" more than patriots like Bennie Adkins.
Bennie talks to us about joining the military after leaving college, the days in Vietnam that led to his award, and the importance of taking care of Veterans after their tour of duty.
Jul 24, 2018
#113: Dan Cnossen – Navy Veteran, Paralympic Gold Medalist
I met Dan Cnossen on the red carpet at the Team USA awards back in April. I spoke to him about the opportunity to represent the United States in a different uniform and his experience with adaptive sports. Hour later, he was named 2018 Male Paralympic Athlete of the Games.
Dan was nice enough to agree to a podcast interview, and connected with me a few weeks ago to record. We talked about everything from his time in the Navy to accepting that his injury meant leaving the service to becoming a gold medalist.
Lt. Cmdr. Dan Cnossen was serving as the platoon commander for SEAL Team One in Afghanistan in September 2009 when he stepped on an IED (improvised explosive device) and was wounded in the explosion. The accident caused Cnossen to lose both his legs just above the knee. Cnossen went through rehabilitation, first at the Bethesda National Naval Medical Center, and later at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he learned to walk with his new prosthetics. Cnossen was awarded both a Bronze Star with Valor from the Secretary of the Navy for his service in combat.
A five-member mountaineering team of U.S. military, Veterans, and a physician from non-profit U.S. Expeditions and Explorations (USX) summited North America’s highest peak, Denali, Alaska, during a scientific research expedition to benefit the study of high altitude cardiology, May 14 to June 5, 2018.
USX is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that enables the military and Veteran communities to impact STEM fields by conducting adventurous, scientific research across the globe. During USX’s Denali expedition, its team members wore Cardiac Insight, Inc.’s Cardea SOLO™ wireless electrocardiogram sensors to capture cardiology data and detect cardiac arrhythmias at high altitude.
One of the members of the mountaineering team that went up Denali was Army Veteran Adam Storck. He is Head of Devices for M-KOPA Solar, overseeing new product development, delivery, and testing. Storck is from Seattle and resides in London and Nairobi, Kenya. He is a graduate of Garfield High School, Seattle (2005), UNC-Chapel Hill (2009), and Oxford University (2016). Adam is also a Veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan (2010-2011, 2013).
Adam joins Borne the Battle to talk about his experience climbing to the summit of Denali and the incredible work he is doing in Nairobi. He is another example of how Veterans go on to do amazing things following their military service.
Drinking can be a concern for many people. Veterans can fall into behavior of using alcohol to cope with emotional distress following a deployment or transition out of the military. For some, the volume drinking turns from moderate to heavy, and the body starts to show signs of wear.
VA created VetChange to help Veterans monitor their drinking and take control. VetChange is a free, confidential online program to help Veterans cut back or stop drinking, and learn to manage PTSD symptoms without using alcohol. Based on scientific research, VetChange helps you build skills to better manage your drinking and other problems Veterans can experience after deployment, including symptoms of PTSD. Set your own goals. Learn at your own pace. Check your own progress over time and adjust your personal plan for change — with VetChange, you're in the driver's seat.
Monica Roy, who is the Program Manager for Substance Substance Abuse Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program and Outpatient Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program at VA Boston Healthcare System's Jamaica Plain Campus. She served as a subject matter expert for the development of the VetChange App. She joins us on this episode to explain how VetChange came to be and how it benefits Veterans.
Jul 02, 2018
#110: David Zurfluh – Air Force Veteran, National President of Paralyzed Veterans of America
When I was visiting my then-girlfriend in Columbus a few years ago, we realized her apartment complex was not outfitted to accommodate a wheelchair. There was handicap parking, but unless you were on the ground floor, that person would not be able to access your apartment. That realization made me notice more instances of this in our communities, and I've become sympathetic to the challenges that brings to persons in wheelchairs.
I've also seen the technology that has improved the lives of those with permanent injuries. Rory Cooper was on the podcast a while back talking about his research and the breakthroughs he's making. Pictures from a recent golf event showed paralyzed Veterans using a chair that helped them stand upright so they could properly swing a golf club.
So, we have a society that's still behind on accommodations, and we have technology that is making breakthroughs for the people it serves. Where does that put us overall and what is the experience of injured Veterans when looking through those two lenses? I sat down with David Zurfluh, the National President of Paralyzed Veterans of America. David talks to us about his time in the Air Force, his accident and injury, the evolution of accommodations, and how his organization serves Veterans.
Jun 27, 2018
#109: GI Bill 74th Anniversary w/ Barrett Bogue & Lauren Augustine of SVA
Education is one of the most valuable things a person can have. Following World War II, the original GI Bill helped provide Veterans returning from war the opportunity to pursue a college degree. Since its inception, the GI Bill has gone through a few iterations, including the most recent Post 9/11 GI Bill receiving the Forever GI Bill enhancement.
The GI Bill celebrates its 74th anniversary this month. To join the celebration of this wonderful benefit's 75th year, I invited a couple members of Student Veterans of America to join me in a discussion of the history of the GI Bill, its evolution, and its latest iteration. With me for this week's episode is Marine Veteran Barrett Bogue, SVA's Vice President for Public Relations and Public Engagement and Army Veteran Lauren Augustine, Vice President of Government Affairs. Both of them have experience working in higher education and had a close view of what it took to pass the Forever GI Bill.
Jun 21, 2018
#108: Sally Roberts - Army Veteran, Wrestle Like a Girl
One of my favorite parts of podcasting in the Veteran space is learning about what Veterans are doing in their communities and their industries. This week we hear from Army Veteran Sally Roberts, founder of Wrestle Like a Girl.
Sally was a resident at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center for eight years during which time she was a 3-time national champion, 2003 World Cup Champion, 2003 & 2005 World Bronze Medalist and a 2008 Olympic Alternate. She served six years in the Army as a Special Operations soldier where she volunteered for deployment to Afghanistan. She was also a member of the Army’s prestigious World Class Athlete Program and represented both the U.S. Army and Team USA in elite athletic competitions.
Sally joins the podcast to share her experience in the Army and her efforts with Wrestle Like a Girl, advocating for girls and women across the United States to be afforded opportunities to participate in wrestling.
Jun 13, 2018
#107: Jason & Emily McCarthy – Army Veteran & MilSpouse, GORUCK CEO & Chief of Staff
A couple weeks ago, GORUCK hosted an event in Washington D.C. called the Star Course 50-Miler. More than 700 participants wondered around Washington visiting way-points in attempt to walk 50 miles in 20 hours. The idea originates from an executive order handed down by Teddy Roosevelt to his military. Hours before the event, Jason and Emily McCarthy, CEO and Chief of Staff of GORUCK, swung by VA's central office to record a podcast with me.
GORUCK is a company that makes rucksacks and hosts events for community rucking led by a cadre of special forces experts. Rucking is the activity of walking with weight on your back. In this week's podcast, the married couple share Jason's experience as Army special forces, Emily's experience as a military spouse, their separation, their re-connection, and how all of that led to the creation of GORUCK.
Jun 06, 2018
#106: Kenneth Holliday – Army Veteran, Veterans Legacy Program
Continuing the theme of memorializing those that have served our country and passed, we're going to talk more about the Veterans Legacy Program. Last week, Bryce Carpenter laid the ground work last week by explaining the creation and development of the program, as well as the impact it has as an educational tool. This week we talk with Kenneth Holliday, who works with the Veterans Legacy Program at the National Cemetery Administration. He is also a proud Army Veteran, having served in the Infantry with deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Ken shares his experience of service, his transition out, how he first got involved with the Veterans Legacy Program, and how his experience has been with the program since joining VA. He also shares some unique stories that he's discovered through his research, as well as some of the challenges that come with creating content for Veterans who have passed.
I hope everyone is enjoying their Memorial Day. However you recognize the holiday, I hope you take a moment to remember those that paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
In theme with Memorial Day, we'll be looking at the Veterans Legacy Program on this week's podcasts.
The Veterans Legacy Program (VLP) is National Cemetery's Administration's educational outreach initiative. Their mission is to memorialize our nation's Veterans through sharing their stories of service and sacrifice. They partner with universities, schools, teachers, professors, and students of all levels to research Veterans interred in NCA cemeteries and how they contributed to their country as service members, and how they contributed to their community as Veterans.
First, on a Benefits Breakdown edition of the show, I bring on Bryce Carpenter, Educational Outreach Programs Manager for NCA and a proud Army veteran. Bryce will tell us about the inception of the program, the value it brings to our community, how schools are using it for education, and how it has impacted him as a Veteran.
May 28, 2018
#104: Wendy Tenhula – Director of Innovation and Collaboration for the Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
Hopefully, you watched our panel discussion on mental health or listened to the audio on Monday's podcast. Today's episode is an extension of that conversation. Coming out of that YouTube Live event, there were a number of things I wanted to ask that just didn't fit into our program. So, the following day, I met with Dr. Wendy Tenhula to learn more about her role at VA, the progress we've seen in Veterans seeking treatment for mental health issues, and the value Make the Connection has for our Veterans who want to learn more.
May is Mental Health Month and one of VA's leading resources for mental health, Make the Connection, kicked off the month with a YouTube Live event. The event was a panel discussion about Veterans and mental health.
I was honored to host the event, and was joined by Marine Veteran Moses Maddox and Dr. Wendy Tenhula, VA’s Director of Innovation and Collaboration for the Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.
I decided to pull the audio from the event and include it on a Benefits Breakdown episode. Moses shares a lot about getting treatment at VA and Dr. Tenhula explains how Veterans can use services at VA for information and mental health care. As a group, we went in-depth on the importance of mental health care and how Veterans and their family members can be prepared to respond to a disconcerting situation.
May 21, 2018
#102: Jennifer MacDonald – Army Veteran, Director of Clinical Innovations and Education, VHA Connected Care
Tele-health has been a priority at VA and we've made great strides in the care we can offer Veterans. From video conferencing between physician and patient to our mobile app "Annie." I've personally used mobile apps and digital platforms to connect with my therapist. The convenience helps preserve the valuable resource of time and the comfort allows patients to receive the care they need with less stress on their daily lives. VA's efforts in using technology to reach and care for Veterans has been grouped under our Office of Connected Care.
The Office of Connected Care focuses on improving health care through technology by engaging Veterans and care teams outside of traditional health care visits. By bringing together VA digital health technologies under one umbrella, the Office of Connected Care is enhancing health care coordination across VA and supporting Veterans’ participation in their own care.
This week I talk with Dr. Jennifer MacDonald, Director of Clinical Innovations and Education, VHA Connected Care. She shares her time in the military, becoming a doctor, and how VA is using technology to care for Veterans at a distance. We'll cover My HealtheVet, VA Telehealth Services, VA Mobile, and more.
May 16, 2018
#101: Raymond Kaloplastos – Army Veteran, Mobile Vet Center
We're wrapping up Public Service Recognition Week and I think a nice bookend to the week is to talk with someone that serves Veterans through his public service. Raymond Kaloplastos is known as "Ray from VA" around his community in San Antonio. I spoke with him at the Student Veterans of America National Convention back in January. He was there with a mobile Vet Center to provide any counseling services Veterans may need while attending the event.
Ray is an Army Veteran and will talk to us about his lengthy time in service, his retirement, how he got started with VA and the value that Mobile Vet Centers bring our communities, including disaster response.
May 11, 2018
#100: Bruce Silverglade - Army Veteran, Owner of Gleason's Gym
This is a big milestone for us. 100 episodes of Borne the Battle. We've spoken to Veterans from all branches (even one Coast Guard Veteran) and learned about so many industries. The stories have been interesting and learning about their current vocations has been inspiring.
Episode 100 is going to feature Bruce Silverglade, an Army Veteran that served during the Vietnam War. We'll learn about his service, his transition, how he became owner of Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn, and about a cool program he started that allows Veterans to train at his gym for free. Then, we'll hear from other characters involved in this program including the VA employee that helped organize it, the trainer that works with these Veterans, and the Veterans that are benefiting from such a unique program.
To see and learn more about this program, check out our YouTube for a video we recently produced for the latest episode of The American Veteran, showing these Veterans in action at Gleason's Gym.
May 09, 2018
#99: Benefits Breakdown - Community Engagement, Homeless Programs
VA is very active in addressing and attempting to prevent Veteran homelessness. We hold a "no wrong door" policy, which allows Veterans to touch base with any point of contact at VA with confidence they will be guided to our resources and services to assist them. The longer I work here, and the more I speak with fellow employees, the more I realize this matter is important to everyone here, whether or not they're directly involved.
In December, I brought on my colleague to discuss VA's approach to communicating homeless resources to Veterans and their communities. This week, I speak with Anthony Love, Director of Community Engagement for VHA's Homeless Programs. He and I discuss how VA delivers these resources, benefits, and services to Veterans that are homeless or at-risk for homelessness. Anthony helps us understand what it means to be at-risk for homelessness and how communities are ending Veteran homelessness.
May 07, 2018
#98: Nick Karnaze – Marine Veteran; Owner of Stubble & 'Stache
After a successful round table on women Veterans topics, I was excited to do another one. I decided to curate a round table of Veteran entrepreneurs, but had a couple guests back out and was forced to postpone. Fortunately, one of my invited guests was still available and interested in doing a one-on-one interview. Nick Karnaze is a Marine Veteran having served as an officer with the Marine Raiders. After getting out the military, he started a business in international development. The business did not succeed as hoped. Then, after growing a beard in honor of a fallen friend, Nick was inspired to start his current business, Stubble & 'Stache.
Nick and I discuss the journey of entrepreneurship, his process for troubleshooting, his routines, and how he handles productivity.
May 02, 2018
#97: Tim Kolzcak – Army Veteran; The Veterans Project
Tim Kolzcak asked his dad what the plan was for college. After learning there was no money available for his education, he had to choose between going into debt or joining the military. So, he enlisted in the Army. After his tour, which involved deployments in support of OIF/OEF, he continued his education. With the recommendation and encouragement of a professor, he began a photographic essay titled The Veterans Project. Now, Tim tells the stories of Veterans through these photos.
Tim is going to share his journey in the Army and exploring the idea of his project. Also, Tim joins us for a conversation about storytelling in the Veteran space, and what Veterans should keep in mind as they collaborate within the community and attempt to motivate others through their own story.
Apr 25, 2018
#96: Alphi Quitevis – Marine Veteran; Meditation Practice
Alternative healing and mental health awareness is becoming more important and more popular. One thing Veterans are trying out is meditation. Meditation can be defined as a practice where an individual focuses their mind on a particular object, thought or activity to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state. Like many Veterans, I have tried mediation and enjoy it, but I struggle with regular practice.
When I first exited the military, I got involved with a brand called Veteran Empire which was led by my friend Alfred "Alphi" Quitevis. Alphi was hustling with school, a business, and a busy social life. He noticed it started catching up with him and he put it all aside to explore the world and himself. During this exploration, he studied and practiced meditation. Now, he's an expert on the subject with plenty of insight to offer.
I watched Alphi go through this transition and followed him along his journey. I knew he'd be the right guy to discuss meditation and how it can apply to Veterans. He's going to talk to us about his time in the Corps, becoming too busy, becoming less busy, and finding meditation.
Apr 18, 2018
#95: Rob Jones – Marine Veteran; Month of Marathons
I've never run a marathon. I'm definitely one of those people that say, "I'd like to run one someday," but the truth is I probably won't. Rob Jones, a Marine Veteran who has two fewer legs than I do, ran 31 marathons in just as many days. His journey started in England, and then he hopped across the pond for a 30 for 30 marathons to days adventure. His journey wrapped up on Veterans Day 2017 as he finished his last marathon at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C..
Now, Rob hosts a podcast called Use the Weight and uses his recovery from injury as inspiration to others.
Rob joins us this week to talk about his service in the Marine Corps, the logistics of doing 31 marathons in 31 days, and where he may be going from here with his next mission.
I smoked for nearly ten years. I picked up the habit when I was 18 or 19 years old, and didn't truly quit until my late 20s. Like many smokers, I tried a number of different philosophies to kick the habit. It was easier to quit when I left the military, but it was still a challenge. Even years after I quit, I still get cravings occasionally, especially if I'm around other smokers.
Like any personal challenge, a support system is always key to success. I wish I had known about VA's Smoking Quitline when I decided to quit. One call to the quitline can get you set up with a counselor to talk about the importance of quitting, help you set up a plan, and schedule follow up calls to check in on your progress.
To get you more familiar with this service provided by VA, I spoke with a cessation counselor about what you need to know about the experience of using our Smoking Quitline.
Apr 09, 2018
#93: Robert Blackman - Marine Veteran; President and CEO, Marine Corps Heritage Foundation
Washington D.C. is full of amazing museums. The National Mall is lined with preserved history and remembrance. However, one of the best locations in the area for military history, the Marine Corps Museum, is an hour south in Quantico, Virginia. The Marine Corps Museum is beautifully built, meant to resemble the flag staff of the famous Iwo Jima flag raising photo. Inside, guests can learn about about Marine Corps' inception at Tun Tavern and its involvement in America's conflicts since then.
The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation is responsible for the development and upkeep of the museum, preserving and promulgating the history, traditions and culture of the Marine Corps and educating all Americans in its virtues. Our guest on this week's podcast, retired Lieutenant General Robert Blackman is the President of the foundation.
Robert shares his experience in the Marine Corps, the importance of preserving military history, and his role at the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation.
About Robert Blackman:
Lieutenant General Blackman was commissioned as Marine Corps officer upon graduation from Cornell University in June 1970. Toward the end of a long successful career, Lieutenant General Blackman served as the Commanding General, III Marine Expeditionary Force; Commander, Marine Corps Bases, Japan; and Commander, Marine Forces Japan from 2003 to 2005. He then assumed command of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command; U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Europe; U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South; U.S. Marine Corps Bases, Atlantic; U.S. Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic; and U.S. Fleet Marine Force, Europe, until his retirement in 2007. After leaving active service, Lieutenant General Blackman worked with Marine Corps’ Marine Air-Ground Task Force Staff Training Program. He was named President and CEO of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation in 2011.
Apr 04, 2018
#92: Women Veterans round table featuring Lauren Augustine, Joy Ilem, & Sarah Maples
We have some bonus content for you. I sat down with three amazing Veterans to help wrap up our focus on Women Veterans this month. Lauren Augustine from Student Veterans of America, Joy Ilem from Disabled American Veterans, and Sarah Maples from Veterans of Foreign Wars joined me to discuss women Veterans they admire, women Veterans issues from the perspective of their respective organizations, and the growth of women Veterans as icons and leaders in the Veteran community.
Lauren Augustine is SVA's Director of Policy, advocating for student Veterans as it comes to policy affecting their pursuit of education. Joy Ilem is DAV's National Legislative Director. She directs the advancement of DAV’s public policy objectives to promote and defend reasonable and responsible legislation to assist disabled Veterans and their families nationwide, while guarding current Veteran’s benefits and services from legislative erosion. Sarah Maples just wrapped up her time at VFW as Director for National Security and Foreign Affairs where she developed, implemented, and promoted the VFW's national security and foreign affairs policy priorities.
Mar 30, 2018
#91 Sarah Holzhalb – Coast Guard Veteran, Athlete and Team RWB Relationships Manager
This week's podcast marks our fourth and last installment in the series featuring women from the Women Veterans Athlete Initiative put on by the Center for Women Veterans. Today, we feature Sarah Holzalb, a Coast Guard Veteran and Relationships Manager for Team RWB.
Sarah Holzhalb entered the US Coast Guard Commissioned Corps as a deck watch officer in 2002, serving for 5 years. While grieving the suicides of two shipmates, she decided to train for her first marathon. The long training hours proved therapeutic, and her running club provided a new tribe to replace the shipmates she’d left behind.
Sarah talks to us about serving in the Coast Guard, her approach to marathons, the value she sees in Team RWB, and more.
Mar 28, 2018
#90 Candice Caesar – Army Veteran, Athlete and Team RWB member
This is the third installment of our series spotlighting women from the Women Veteran Athletes Initiative put on by the Center for Women Veterans. Featured on this week's episode is Army Veteran Candice Caesar.
Candice Caesar joined the US Army as a personnel actions specialist, excited to serve her country. A vehicle accident left her traumatized, paralyzed, and medically retired. She vowed to run again one day, and throughout her transition and recovery, she leaned on physical training to keep her going.
She's run a number of different races and events across the country, and is trying to race in 50 out of 50 states. She also aspires to do a half marathon on all seven continents. Candice talks to us about her eagerness to be a soldier, the car accident that left her injured, and how Team RWB and physical fitness have benefited her.
Mar 21, 2018
#89 Mila Dimal – Navy Veteran, Athlete and Team RWB chapter leader
Mila Dimal served as an aviation mechanic in the US Navy and Navy Reserves, retiring after 20 years of service. Her passion is being the best mother, friend, and employee possible, and she credits sports and physical activities with helping her meet her goals, and setting a great example for her children.
Mar 14, 2018
#88 Bernardine Donato – Navy & Air Force Veteran, Athlete and Team RWB leader
Bernardine "Bernie" Donato is a Navy and Air Force Veteran that lives life to the fullest and on her own terms. She is a cancer survivor and lives with two autoimmune disorders; one which affects her joints and the other her muscles. Yet, she's an athlete, a leader for the Team RWB Durham chapter, and an artist.
Bernie is the first interview in a set of four to help us celebrate Women's History Month and the Center for Women Veterans' Women Veteran Athletes Initiative. “The Women Veteran Athletes Initiative will highlight the strength, diversity and resilience of women who served our country,” said VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin. She has seen a woman's role in the military develop over her lifetime and seen the growing recognition that women Veterans are finally receiving.
She joins Borne the Battle to tell us about her service in the military, supporting her community, staying active, and how she needs to retire from retirement.
Mar 07, 2018
#87 Randy Reeves – Navy & Air Force Veteran, Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs
Many of us have a passion for serving Veterans. For some, it's a true calling. That's what I saw in this week's guest, Randy Reeves, when we were conducting our interview.
Randy C. Reeves was nominated by President Donald J. Trump to serve as the 6th Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs and was confirmed by the United States Senate on November 8, 2017. National Cemetery Administration has received exceptional marks in the past, and Under Secretary Reeves is committed to building on that.
About Under Secretary Reeves:
As Under Secretary, he leads 135 national cemeteries in providing dignified burial services for Veterans and eligible family members. His responsibilities include maintaining the cemeteries as national shrines; design and construction activities related to the establishment of new national cemeteries; overseeing memorial programs to honor the service of Veterans, including the provision of headstones, markers, medallions and Presidential Memorial Certificates; and administering federal grants to help states, territories and tribal governments establish Veterans cemeteries.
He shares stories from his time in the service, his transition out of the military, losing a close friend and how that keeps him inspired to serve Veterans.
Feb 28, 2018
#86 Steven Weintraub – Marine Veteran, Chief Strategy Officer for Vet Tix
It's interesting how long one can be aware of something before finally checking it out. I heard about Vet Tix a few years ago and appreciated the concept, but never looked into them. Finally, after interviewing their Chief Strategy Officer, Steven Weintraub, I decided to enroll and see what it was about. Through their system, I got tickets to a cool event at a local venue, and it only cost me a transaction fee. That's incredible.
Vet Tix started ten years ago and was inspired by Navy Veteran Michael Focareto when he attended the Super Bowl and noticed some unused seats. He wondered if unused seats at events could be distributed and donated to service members and Veterans interested in attending. Vet Tix was born.
Now, there are more than 720,000 users and at the time of this writing, they have nearly 1,000 events nationwide that Veterans can attend. The system is straight forward: -Tickets are donated to Vet Tix. -Normal events are open and first come first served. -High demand events are distributed through a lottery system. -The more you use Vet Tix, the more opportunities you have to submit into a lottery.
This system is beneficial for all involved. Ticket holders that cannot attend the event have a tax-deductible donation they can make, because Vet Tix is a 501(c)3, and they're assured their tickets will not go unused. Venues benefit because it helps get people to the event. End users benefits by getting tickets to events for little to no cost to them.
Steven Weintraub joins us to explain the ins and outs of Vet Tix, his role in the organization, and his service to our country in the Marine Corps.
Feb 21, 2018
#85 Michael Haynie – Air Force Veteran; Vice Chancellor at Syracuse University
This week's interview is with Michael Haynie. Michael is an Air Force Veteran, Vice Chancellor at Syracuse University, and Director of Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF). He is also a professor of entrepreneurship.
IVMF is widely respected in the Veteran space and continues to grow each year. IVMF is higher education’s first interdisciplinary academic institute, singularly focused on advancing the lives of the nation’s military veterans and their families.
Syracuse University has made student Veterans a priority and have graduated many top performing Veterans including Student Veteran of America's Jared Lyon.
Michael provides us a great insight into his military career, his tenure at Syracuse, Veterans in higher education, and Veteran entrepreneurship.
Suicide prevention and Veteran suicide is an important topic for us all. Secretary Shulkin and VA continue to make it a priority. Personally, I've been talking to people about this topic for several years, to include sharing my own suicide attempt. Whenever I get the opportunity to talk to a Veteran about mental and emotional health, I do not take the occasion for granted.
I was wandering a social event at the Military Influencers Conference when I met John Preston. John is a Marine Corps Veteran that is pursuing a career in music. He has struggled with PTSD, alcohol dependency, and suicidal behavior. His music is inspired by his emotional struggles, the passing of his father, his brother's suicide, and other events in his life.
John was nice enough to join me for an interview and shared his life from joining the military to where his career is now. This is a powerful episode and one you'll definitely want to listen to.
VA recently released a Welcome Kit that can guide Veterans to which benefits they may qualify for. What makes this product unique and refreshing is the guidance is based on the Veteran's stage of life. The road map starts with the moment you join the United States military and goes all the way to a Veteran's later years.
Back in October, I attended the Military Influencers Conference. While there, I met dozens of awesome and unique Veterans. During a social event, I was introduced to Josh Elledge. Josh is an expert on saving money and getting upgrades. He told me about a technique he uses with hotels that almost always produces a room upgrade. I was fascinated by his insight and his passion for what he knew.
When I returned home I followed up with my new contacts and did a little research on them. That's when I learned Josh had an initiative called upendPR. Between the savings and the public relations knowledge, I knew Josh could bring some unique insight to the podcast that few can. I hit him up and he happily agreed to an interview.
Josh tells us about his service in the Navy as a journalist stationed at Pearl Harbor. We learn about his transition and attending college. Then, he gives us the backstory on how he became a consumer expert and gives us some tips on how we can save on our grocery bill. All that, plus some professional PR talk.
Feb 01, 2018
#81: Benefits Breakdown – Center for Women Veterans
Women Veterans make up the fastest growing segment of the Veteran population, and VA is committed to providing them with the best health care. This week's Benefits Breakdown features Kayla Williams, the Director of the Center for Women Veterans.
Kayla is an Army Veteran herself and was a military spouse when her husband was serving. She sat down with me to discuss the mission of CWV and the care and resources VA provides for our women Veterans.
The past couple months have been amazing with so many great Veterans agreeing to be featured and doing interviews. Sometimes, when I get a stash of interviews recorded, I forget how good some of them are until I go back to edit them. That's the case with my interview with General George Casey (ret). We recorded the interview at Student Veterans of America's #NatCon2018 during a busy day of interviews with Student Veteran of the Year finalist interviews, and I was pleasantly surprised when I listened to the interview a couple weeks later.
General George W. Casey, Jr. is one of the most accomplished soldiers in U.S. history and an authority on strategic leadership. As the 36th Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army from April 2007 to 2011, General Casey led what is arguably the world’s largest and most complex organization — 1.1 million people strong, with a $200+ billion annual budget — during one of the most extraordinary periods in military and global political history. He is widely credited with restoring balance to the war-weary U.S. Army, modernizing and leading the transformation necessary to defend our nation in the 21st Century, and ensuring the current force deployed in the war on terror was the best this country has ever fielded.
Currently serving as a Distinguished Senior Lecturer of Leadership at the Samuel Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University and lecturing internationally on leadership to the leaders of national and multinational corporations (e.g., Coca-Cola, Caterpillar, Amazon, TDAmeritrade and General Electric) and at other business schools (e.g., Columbia, Yale and the Universities of Denver and North Carolina). He is also Chairman of USO Board of Governors and serving on Georgetown Board of Directors.
George tells us about his 41 years in the Army, why he joined, his close friends in the service and his continued service to Veterans and students.
Jan 24, 2018
#79 Danielle Corazza - Army Veteran, National Outreach Coordinator, Center for Women Veterans
Before 2017 ended, I sat down with Army Veteran Danielle Corazza for an interview. At the time, Danielle had been selected for a position at our Center for Women Veterans but had not yet started. Danielle has since started her role as National Outreach Coordinator for CWV. You can follow news and announcements out of the CWV on their web page.
Danielle Corazza is a lifelong member of the military community (both parents served on active duty in the Marine Corps and Navy), she entered onto active duty service with the US Army at the age of 17, completing her 3 year term of service as an E-4P (Specialist) and transferring into the Army National Guard for an additional two years. Due to service-related medical conditions, she left the National Guard to pursue her education when her disability rating was awarded. She availed herself of Vocational Rehabilitation services and the Montgomery GI Bill in order to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources and Business Administration from Strayer University, and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts, adding a certificate from Georgetown University in Nonprofit Executive Management in 2014.
Danielle and I talked about her service in the military, being a VA patient, being a caregiver, entrepreneurship, and much more.
Jan 17, 2018
#78 Chris Rolph - Air Force Veteran, Student Veteran of the Year
"Someone has to be the best." That's what my Gunny told me when my colleague received slightly better marks than I did when I was at MALS-26 on MCAS New River. In a competitive field, someone has to be named the best. I imagine the committee at Student Veterans of America had a difficult time choosing their Student Veteran of the Year.
Of the ten finalists, many of them founded their SVA chapter. Some of them helped get a space at their campus designated for Veterans. All of them have faced some sort of adversity and overcame that for the success the see now. Student Veterans of America’s Student Veteran of the Year is someone who exemplifies the qualities of a servant leader. Student Veteran of the Year is a current SVA chapter executive with a demonstrated record of significantly improving their chapter, campus, and community over the past academic year. Student Veteran of the Year personifies SVA’s mission of supporting yesterday’s warriors, today’s scholars, and tomorrow’s leaders, with evident respect from their colleagues. Student Veteran of the Year is the public face and representative of the 1.1 million student veterans in higher education.
In the end, someone has to be the best. Air Force Veteran Chris Rolph of Queens University of Charlotte has been named the Student Veteran of the Year.
36 hours before the announcement, Chris and I sat down to talk about his service in the Air Force, a close friend of his, the challenges and accomplishments he's seen on campus, and much more.
Jan 13, 2018
#77: Randy Dexter – Student Veteran of the Year finalist
Today, we speak with Randy Dexter. Randy is an Army Veteran and just received his bachelor's from University of Nevada in Las Vegas. He just started his pursuit of his master's degree.
Randy shares stories from his service, recovering from his deployment and struggling transition, how the Las Vegas shooting impacted his community, how he got his service dog, and how his Veterans group is making an impact with local government.
Jan 12, 2018
#76: Jessica Kirksey & Luke Opyd – Student Veteran of the Year finalists
Each year Student Veterans of America choose an exceptional student Veteran as Student Veteran of the Year. This year, they narrowed it down to ten finalists, announcing the winner at the end of their national conference.
This week, we are spotlighting 7-8 of this year’s finalists, including the person that was awarded Student Veteran of the Year. Tuesday, we spoke to two exceptional Veterans, Aaron and Kirsten. Yesterday, we featured Gretchen and Jessica. Today, we chat with Jessica Kirksey from Our Lady of the Lake University and Luke Opyd from Cornell. Both give us their military stories, serving as chapter leaders, and thoughts on outreach on campus.
Jan 11, 2018
#75: Gretchen Klingler & Jessica Nelson – Student Veteran of the Year finalists
Each year Student Veterans of America choose an exceptional student Veteran as Student Veteran of the Year. This year, they narrowed it down to ten finalists, announcing the winner at the end of their national conference.
This week, we are spotlighting 7-8 of this year’s finalists, including the person that was awarded Student Veteran of the Year. Yesterday, we spoke to two exceptional Veterans, Aaron and Kirsten. Today, we learn from an Air Force Veteran and a Marine Veteran, Gretchen Klingler and Jessica Nelson. Each will tell us about military service, leading a Veterans group on campus, and best practices for campus outreach.
Jan 10, 2018
#74: Aaron Slatton & Kirsten Battocchio - Student Veteran of the Year finalists
Each year Student Veterans of America choose an exceptional student Veteran as Student Veteran of the Year. This year, they narrowed it down to ten finalists, announcing the winner at the end of their national conference.
Student Veterans of America’s Student Veteran of the Year is someone who exemplifies the qualities of a servant leader. Student Veteran of the Year is a current SVA chapter executive with a demonstrated record of significantly improving their chapter, campus, and community over the past academic year. Student Veteran of the Year personifies SVA’s mission of supporting yesterday’s warriors, today’s scholars, and tomorrow’s leaders, with evident respect from their colleagues. Student Veteran of the Year is the public face and representative of the 1.1 million student veterans in higher education. We spoke with last year's receipient, Kate Tillotson earlier last year.
This week, we are spotlighting 7-8 of this year's finalists, including the person that was awarded Student Veteran of the Year. Today, we learn from two Marine Veterans, Aaron Slatton and Kirsten Battocchio. Each will tell us about military service, leading a Veterans group on campus, and best practices for campus outreach.
If you've been following our Twitter or Instagram accounts, you've been seeing some stories and images from Student Veterans of America's National Conference. It's a place where thousands of student Veterans and their supporters convene to make the experience of achieving higher education more fulfilling for Veterans. During the conference I had the opportunity to sit down with SVA's President Jared Lyon.
Jared was on the show about a year ago where we went through the routine questions and talked about the Veteran experience on campus.
This go-around, we talked about recent metrics showing Veterans' success in higher education, how SVA chapters can keep the momentum going after the conference, and how people can support their local student Veterans.
I was first introduced to Leaphy Khim through Got Your 6. She had shared her experiences at their Storytellers event in Los Angeles. Leaphy was born to Cambodian refugee parents and joined the military after Sept 11 as a way to give back to her parents' adopted country.
Leaphy Khim is a first generation Cambodian American who was born and raised in south Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As the youngest daughter in a family of 5 (3 brothers and 1 sister), she was constantly trying to prove to everyone that she can keep up and stand out. Leaphy had always develop a knack for doing things above and beyond the normal and sometimes the impossible. This is one of the reason why in 2002, she enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. From here, she received intense combat and weapons training through the Corps for more than 6 years. Now, she's pursuing a career in Hollywood as an actress and stuntwoman. She even has a producer credit.
Entertainment is an industry that many Veterans venture into but is rarely spoken about when we talk about post-military careers and what Veterans are doing today. Leaphy gives us some insight to that experience.
Jan 03, 2018
#71: Billy Hurley III - Navy Veteran, professional golfer
We've featured a handful of Veterans from professional sports on this podcast including an NFL player, an NCAA coach, and an NWSL goalie. This week we add a golfer to that list. Navy Veteran Billy Hurley is the only military Veteran currently listed on the PGA tour.
Hurley is a 2004 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, where he earned a bachelor's degree in Quantitative Economics. He also was named Academic All-American.
He was commissioned an Ensign in the United States Navy in 2004, rising to the rank of Lieutenant. After his graduation from the academy, he was assigned to the USS Gettysburg, a guided-missile cruiser based in Mayport, Florida, where he was a combat electronic division officer and on the USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
He had an extended deployment in the Persian Gulf, where he held the position of guided missile destroyer's force protection assistant.
He left the Navy to pursue a career in golf and has successfully made it onto the PGA tour. Billy will talk to us about his military service, pursuing golf, and how his military career has contributed to his success as a golfer.
Dec 27, 2017
#70: Bonnie Carroll - Air Force Veteran, Founder of TAPS President and Founder
The second part of VA's motto calls on us to care for the widows and orphans of those that have "borne the battle." Earlier this year, we had Ashlynne Haycock on during our round-table podcast talking about the Forever GI Bill, and she talked about how a crucial element of the new bill was to benefit survivors. This week, we bring on Bonnie Carroll, the president and founder of the Transition Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS).
Bonnie Carroll founded Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) following the death of her husband in an Army C-12 plane crash on November 12, 1992. TAPS is the leading national Military Service Organization providing compassionate care, casework assistance, and 24/7/365 emotional support for all those impacted by the death of a military loved one. She is a Veteran of the Air National Guard and a 2015 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Bonnie and I talk about her military service, losing her husband, founding TAPS, dealing with grief, and how survivors can get assistance and peer-to-peer support through TAPS.
A couple months ago I attended the Military Influencer Conference. There were a lot of great creators and entrepreneurs there, but one group of people stood out to me. I met a few people representing a product called Everence. Everence is a patented technology that allows you to add DNA from a loved one into any new or existing tattoo.
I know tattoos are a common thing in the military and Veteran community, and I had my own curiosity, led me to inviting a member of their team onto Borne the Battle to talk about it.
Boyd Renner, one of the co-founders of Everence, served in the Navy for 28 years. He served at SEAL Team Two for four years and served over 23 years at Naval Special Warfare Development Group.
He's going to talk to us about his time as a Navy SEAL, his transition out of the military, and the unique product Everence.
I promote the Veterans Crisis Line whenever I can. It is a very important resource to be aware of and I try to remind people however I can. I've used the line to help a friend in need. I encourage everyone to put the number in their phone.
1-800-273-8255 and Press 1
So, in this episode of Borne the Battle, I decided to spotlight the Veterans Crisis Line. In the future, I hope to talk to someone that works there to get their perspective as well. For this week, I explain the different ways you can contact the VCL and the following frequently asked questions:
What happens if I don't press 1?
Can I use the Veterans Crisis Line even if I'm already receiving care from VA?
What mental health services are available from VA?
Do I have to give my name or share personal information when I call the Veterans Crisis Line?
If I share personal information, will it be kept confidential?
Dec 11, 2017
#67: Sterling Cale - Navy Veteran, Pearl Harbor survivor
Last year I had the honor to visit Pearl Harbor for the 75th Commemoration of the attacks on Pearl Harbor. The ceremony was sobering, as a naval ship lined with sailors passed by the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. The honor and recognition given to those that lost their lives on December 7, 1941 was echoed by each person in attendance at the official ceremony.
However, the most powerful moments of my trip were not at any of the events or ceremonies. They were when I joined my colleague to interview a handful of Pearl Harbor survivors. We had the pleasure of talking with Alfred "Uncle Al Rodriguez, Everett Hyland, and, today's feature interview, Sterling Cale.
Sterling served in the Navy as a pharmacist's mate and was stationed at Pearl Harbor during the attack. Sterling shares his perspective during the attack, how he responded, and his role in recovering bodies afterwards. His story is profound and one we're honored to have heard straight from him.
Dec 06, 2017
#66: Benefits Breakdown - Homeless Veterans Outreach and Communications
Veteran homelessness is an issue that is very concerning in our community. VA is committed to aiding those that are homeless or at risk for homelessness. That second part is so important to remember. If a Veteran is experiencing family or financial issues that may lead to them being without stable housing, they should approach VA to get connected with the resources they need. We have a "no wrong door" policy. That means no matter how you contact VA about being homeless or at risk for it, that person will get you connected with the people you need to talk to.
Many communities around the nation have proudly announced that they have effectively ended Veteran homelessness in their area. That doesn't mean that there are no homeless Veterans at any given time. It means that they are prepared and have systems in place to aid any Veteran identified as homeless or at-risk for homelessness and get them back into stable housing.
I decided to speak with my colleague at the Homeless Veterans Outreach and Communications Office. He shares with us the ways VA communicates with Veterans regarding homelessness, the challenges in reaching Veterans, and how VA approaches that outreach.
Dec 04, 2017
#65: Dr. David Shulkin – Secretary of Veterans Affairs
A few weeks ago we released episode 1103 of The American Veteran, a compilation of videos and stories from around our community. Included in that episode was an interview we recently conducted with Secretary Shulkin about improvements around VA, modernizing the processes, and announcements being made.
I wanted to make sure you all heard this interview, so I decided to make it this week's feature interview. My colleague, Melissa Heintz, sat down with Secretary Shulkin to discuss where VA is 8 months into his watch.
Nov 29, 2017
#64: Benefits Breakdown - Office of Tribal Government Relations
Native Americans serve our country at a high rate compared to other demographics. Many of us are familiar with the Navajo Code Talkers, who were key to our victory in World War II. As we round off Native American Heritage Month, I wanted to spotlight VA's efforts to deliver benefits to Native Veterans and work with their tribes.
The Office of Tribal Government Relations (OTGR) works to strengthen and build closer relations between the VA, tribal governments and other key federal, state, private and non-profit partners in an effort to effectively and respectfully serve Veterans across Indian Country. This work is done in the spirit of government to government consultation and collaboration, respectful of the special relationship that exists between the United States and tribal governments.
I sat down with my colleague, Stephanie Birdwell, who is the Director of OTGR. She talks with us about how her office works with tribal governments, how these partnerships help deliver benefits to Native Veterans, and the nuances of these benefits as it relates to Native Veterans (such as VA home loan for property on tribal land).
Navy Veteran Alex Rucshner joins Borne the Battle to tell us about Progressive Insurance's program "Keys to Success" where they help out Veterans in need by gifting them a car. Listen in to learn about this amazing initiative!
Happy Birthday, Marines! Today's episode features Marine Veteran Craig Grossi, who met his best friend, Fred, in Afghanistan and figured out a way to get him back to the United States. This story is a fun and heart felt one and I know you're going to love it.
Mika currently leads the Strategic Communications team at the Veterans' Employment and Training Service (DOL VETS). She brings years of experience in public service and continued service to Veterans. She joins the podcast to discuss her service in the Army, her transition to civilian life, and resources for Veterans to be aware of at the Department of Labor.
Today we bring you a Storytellers alum Phil Klay. Klay’s New York Times-bestselling short story collection won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2014. His book Redeployment also received the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s James Webb award for fiction. He spoke at Storytellers in 2014 and our discussion with him gets into the art of storytelling, and the benefits of expressing yourself through words, whether or not you end up delivering or publishing them.
Sebastian Junger, award winning journalist and author of "Tribe," is the first non-Veteran who isn't the Secretary, to be on the podcast. I believe he makes a great fit with his experience in conflict zones and his longtime relationship with the military community. Junger is going to share his thoughts on storytelling and the importance of sharing your military experience with your community.
The newly branded podcast is here! Borne the Battle is the same great content but simply under a different name. This first episode is an introduction to a new program we'll be publishing in this feed called Benefits Breakdown. Each Monday, I will focus on one resource, office, or benefits at VA that Veterans should be aware of and better understand.
Today's topic is Explore.VA.gov. Learn how to use the site, the Benefits Navigator, and other elements on the web page. Be sure to share with a Veteran!
Nov 06, 2017
#55: Kevin Leverence – Marine Veteran, VA health care user
When we first launched the podcast, initial response questioned whether or not our audience would hear from Veterans that have had trouble with VA. A few of my guests in the past have alluded to challenges with VA health care, but I wanted to to dig a little deeper and talk with someone that has a wide range of experiences with VA. Kevin Leverence and I have known each other for a few years after he first appeared on my podcast 1, 2, Many: Veteran Suicide. I followed up with him earlier this year asking if he'd be willing to share his experiences on This Week at VA and he generously agreed. Kevin did not have a good introduction to VA and it took a few frustrating iterations before he finally broke through some sticking points and found the help he was looking for. Kevin is going to share stories from joining the military and his military service, his transition out of the Marine Corps, frustrations with VA, and finally getting the care he needed. Lots of great talk about patient advocates, Vet Centers, different types of therapy, and much more.
Covered in Episode 55:
How to follow us during next week's events
Interview with Marine Veteran Kevin Leverence
Why he joined the military
A story from his time in
His transition out and the challenges he faced
The day that first turned him off of VA
The value in patient advocates
How Vet Centers are great resources for Veterans
Types of therapy he has used
Getting comfortable with VA and getting the care he needs
Finding your patient advocate
#VeteranOfTheDay Navy Veteran Tony Roberti
Nov 01, 2017
#54: Melissa Castillo – Navy Veteran, Dallas County Veterans Service Officer
A couple weeks ago we published a special episode with the Center for Minority Veterans to feature a panel that was originally scheduled for the Women Veterans Summit. One panel member was missing from that episode, so I brought Melissa Castillo on to interview her as our featured guest. Melissa talks to us about her military service, working for VA, and her experience as a woman minority Veteran.
About Melissa Castillo:
Ms. Melissa Castillo enlisted in the US Navy. She completed basic training and Torpedoman’s Mate “A” School at the Naval Air Station, Orlando, FL. Her duty station included on board the USS Simon Lake (AS-33) in La Maddalena, Sardinia, Italy; Naval Submarine Base, New London, CT; and Naval Operational Support Center, San Antonio, TX.
Ms. Castillo has over 10 years of experience in VA benefits. She is accredited by Texas Veterans Commission and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) as a Veterans Service Officer.
One great thing about podcasting is the ability to think, "hey, I want to talk to that person," and then taking action to make it happen. When I learned that Steelers offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva is a former Army Ranger, I knew I wanted to talk with him. Al was nice enough to make time for This Week at VA and spoke to us about his experience in the military, transitioning to the NFL, and being a Veteran in a high-exposure arena.
Alejandro attended SHAPE American High School (Casteau, Belgium) and after graduating from West Point, he spent 2010-13 serving as an Army officer and served three tours in Afghanistan. He earned numerous honors for his service, including the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, the Ranger Tab, the Parachutist Badge, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Combat Infantryman’s Badge and Expert Infantryman’s Badge. He is the son of Ignacio and Mati Villanuev. His father was a Lieutenant Commander in the Spanish Navy and also worked for NATO throughout Europe.
The 2017 National Women Veterans Summit put on by VA's Center for Women Veterans (CWV) was cut short due to Hurricane Harvey. The CWV has been developing ways to deliver information from the summit and I've collaborated with them to produce a podcast, with support of the Center for Minority Veterans, on minority women Veterans. Barbara Ward, the Director for CMV, lead a panel with Teresita Smith, Juanita Mullen, and Ginger Miller. They discuss
About Center for Minority Veterans:
The Center for Minority Veterans is the Department of Veterans Affairs model for inter-and intra-agency co-operation, to ensure all veterans receive equal service regardless of race, origin, religion, or gender. We are process improvement-oriented and both internal and external customer-centric. We assist VA in executing its mission in the most equitable, efficient and humane way possible. Dignity and an acceptable quality of life are the products we seek to deliver to ALL veterans no matter what their circumstance. We will grace our mission execution with gratitude to the men and women we now serve who in turn served our Nation so well.
I've published more than 500 podcast episodes in my podcast career. A couple times a year, there's usually an exciting interview, one that feels like a badge of honor. This week's episode of This Week at VA features the epitome of those interviews. Thanks to a colleague and the great folks at Duke, I had the opportunity to interview Mike Krzyzewski, coach of the men's basketball team at Duke University. As many of you know, Coach K has won multiple NCAA championship titles and is considered a legend in the sport. What many people may not know, is that he is a West Point graduate and a former Army officer. Coach K talks to us about his decision to go to West Point, transitioning from military to college coaching, developing young players, and his experience in the Army.
About Coach Mike Krzyzewski (before his career at Duke):
Coach K's disciplined, mentally tough teams can be seen as an extension of his own upbringing. Krzyzewski went to West Point and enrolled in the U.S. Military Academy to receive a quality education, play basketball and become an officer in the Army. From 1969-74, Krzyzewski served his country, directing service teams for three years and serving a two-year stint as head coach at the U.S. Military Academy Prep School in Belvoir, Va. In 1974, he resigned from the Army having attained the rank of Captain. When Coach K was just 26, Knight, his former coach at Army, offered him a graduate assistant-ship at Indiana University. That 1975 squad posted an 18-0 mark in the Big Ten and a 31-1 overall record. Prior to his arrival at Duke in 1980, Krzyzewski spent five years building the program at his alma mater in West Point. He led the Cadets to one NIT berth, one ECAC playoff appearance and an overall record of 73-59.
Covered in Episode 51:
Nominating a #VeteranOfTheDay
Interview with Navy Veteran Kevin Quarles
His decision to attend West Point
A story from his experience in the Army
Comparing developing young players to mentoring soldiers
I knew I wanted to do something unique or cool for episode number 50. I've decided to flip the microphone and let someone else ask me the questions I typically ask my guests. My colleague Melissa Heintz stepped in to host and asked me about my service in the Marine Corps, my transition into civilian life, working with podcasts, and working at VA.
Timothy has been a member of VA’s Digital Media Engagement team since April 2016. His scope includes blog writing, video production, and launching VA’s first ever podcast. He graduated from American University’s School of Communications in 2016 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. Tim is a Marine Corps Veteran having served as a Marine Security Guard and was posted at embassies in Algiers, Algeria; Moscow, Russia; and Lima, Peru.
The wonderful people over at Got Your 6 emailed me one day asking if I wanted to do a round table podcast talking about the Forever GI Bill. I was in right away. The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 AKA the Forever GI Bill works to improve education benefits for Veterans, their dependents, and their survivors. On the panel we have Ashlynne Haycock from TAPS, Lauren Augustine from Got Your 6, and William Hubbard from SVA. The three of them are going to tell me all about the development and execution of this bill.
Covered in Episode 49:
This week's social media events for Suicide Prevention Month
Round table discussion with Ashlynne Haycock, Lauren Augustine, and Will Hubbard
While I was in Nashville last month, I visited an organization called Operation Stand Down Tennessee (OSDTN). OSDTN assists Veterans and their families so they can be self-sustaining and better connected to the community. I sat down with Kevin Quarles, a Navy Veteran and staff member at OSDTN, to learn about his service, the value that OSDTN brings to its community, and his personal efforts with the organization.
On September 11, 2001, four planes crashed on the east coast. Two planes flew into the World Trade Center. One plane skipped off of the ground before hitting the Pentagon. The last plane crashed in an open field in Pennsylvania. Thousands were killed or hurt. Millions were impacted.
One question we often ask each other is "Where were you on September 11? For some of us, that moment was a day in the military. I think its interesting to see how much the world has changed after that tragic day. So, I curated a set of audio clips from the podcast where guests comment on where they were on 9/11 or how the military around them changed due to the attacks.
Featured audio from:
John Lee Dumas
However, at the end of the day, Patriots Day is about remembrance. The story that sticks out to me from the podcast regarding 9/11 came from Army Veteran Dee McWilliams, who briefly shared how the attack at the Pentagon directly affected her.
We will never forget those that lost. We will never lose our gratitude for those that responded to save others that day. And we will always remember to appreciate those that decided to serve and protect our freedom, inspired by that tragic day.
I hope you all had safe Patriots Day and found your own personal way to remember.
Sep 11, 2017
#47: Charlie Smith - Marine Veteran, Lipscomb University student
I was recently down in Nashville and scouted some Veterans to interview. A friend introduced me to Charlie Smith, the president of the Veterans group at Lipscomb University. Charlie and I weren't able to sit down for an interview while I was there, but recently connected for a Skype call where we talk about his journey in the Marine Corps, his aspirations for getting commissioned, being a student Veteran and leading his group on campus.
When I first started podcasting in the Veteran space, often spoke with creatives: authors, artists, musicians, etc. I learned there are a lot of Veterans in the hip hop community. It makes sense. Hip hop is about expression and a lot of emcees use the medium to share personal experiences. Doc Todd is not exception. He's been praised by many national outlets for his music that addresses the difficulties of coming back from conflict and transitioning from the military.
About Doc Todd:
Doc was born George Michael Todd Jr. on February 16, 1985, and raised in the city of Memphis. While study wasn’t his strong suit, he fell in love with writing in high school – that is, writing lyrics for his band, not writing homework assignments. After completing high school in 2003, Doc worked a number of different jobs in the restaurant industry, which was a natural fit given his passion for customer service and uncanny sales ability. However, after several successful years in the business he wanted more from life. Doc set his focus on self-improvement and meaningful growth, and in the fall of 2007 he enlisted in the United States Navy as a Hospital Corpsman.
After his military service (which did not include civilian transition training), Doc moved to Atlanta and worked at restaurants and a premier hospital, while he pursed his college education on the G.I. Bill. Doc graduated from Georgia State University magna cum laude with an undergraduate degree in studying Economics & Public Policy in 2014. He then joined Northwestern Mutual where he began to build a financial management practice, before pursuing this veteran project.
Covered in Episode 46:
VA's response to Hurricane Harvey and information Veterans need regarding benefits
More of Secretary Shulkin's remarks at the American Legion Convention in Reno
Interview with Navy Veteran Doc Todd
Why he decided to join the Navy
Deploying and being medevac'd
His difficult coping with being forced away from his unit.
How his music helps him and his fellow Veterans cope
I first met Rory Cooper at the VA Medical Center in Pittsburgh. He was showcasing a number of products he helped research and develop. I called upon him to join me on the podcast when I saw he was a top 12 finalist for the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America People's Choice Award. He's also nominated in the science and environment category. Rory is going to talk to us about his service in the Army, his spinal cord injury, accommodations for people using wheelchairs, and his research that is benefiting those with similar disabilities.
Rory Cooper, PhD, founder and senior researcher at the University of Pittsburgh Human Engineering Research Labs (HERL), is a world-renowned expert in wheeled mobility and the pioneer in wheelchair selection and configuration. Dr. Cooper is developing technology to increase the independence of people with spinal cord injury or disease (SCI/D) and equipping them with the skills necessary to operate new technology.
Dr. Cooper founded HERL at the University of Pittsburgh in 1994. Today, HERL conducts more than 74 clinical studies in eight customized labs with 50 staff members, who include engineers, physicians, therapists, research specialists and rehab medical interns. HERL’s mission is to continuously improve the mobility and function of disabled patients through advanced engineering in clinical research and medical rehabilitation.
Covered in Episode 43:
Secretary Shulkin's remarks at the American Legion Convention in Reno
Interview with Army Veteran Rory Cooper
Rory's decision to join the Army
His experience in the military
His spinal cord injury.
Life as a handicapped person
The world's accommodations (and lack of) for persons in wheelchairs
In the Veteran community, there are people you hear of and hear about over and over but never meet or engage with. Mark Rockefeller was on my radar for years. I heard about Street Shares, the company he co-founded, when they first started. I never had the opportunity to interview him for my former programs, so he made the short list when we launched This Week at VA. Just a couple weeks ago, I finally got the opportunity to talk with him. I visited Street Share's cozy space in Reston, VA and talked with him about serving in the Air Force, being an entrepreneur, Veteran owned businesses, and much more.
Mark began his career as a military officer, and later as an attorney. Following service in Iraq, Mark worked briefly on a pro bono micro-finance project in Africa before joining the prominent global financial services law firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP. His law practice focused on securities, financial restructuring, and international investment disputes. Inspired by his experience in Africa and a desire to reinvigorate small businesses in the United States (particularly veteran-owned small businesses), Mark left the law firm in 2013 to co-found StreetShares. He holds a B.S. in Finance, and advanced degrees in Finance and Law. Mark provides strategic leadership and vision to StreetShares and ensures our talented team has what it needs to serve our customers. Mark's favorite American Main Street is Main Street, Breckenridge, CO.
This week's featured interview is with retired Army General Gary Profit. Gary is the Senior Director of Military Programs at Walmart. Walmart is a leading employer for Veterans and their spouses. Gary connected with us to talk about Walmart's initiatives to improve the experience of their Veteran employees, the importance of employing Veterans, his service in the Army, and more.
After more than 31 years of U.S. Army service, Brigadier General Gary M Profit retired on February 28, 2006, and, until October 2008, he was Director of Human Capital Management Solutions; International Programs; and Department of Defense Business Transformation Agency Programs, Civilian and Homeland Security Solutions, General Dynamics Information Technology, in which capacities he led a premier provider of lifecycle human capital management technology/service solutions and international technology transfer/export control service solutions for federal agencies and strategic communications service solutions at DOD BTA, respectively. He is currently Senior Director of Military Programs, Walmart, where he directs a synchronized enterprise strategy and complementary implementing programs to attract, recruit, and hire; grow and develop; and retain talent from military community constituencies and leads a collaborative team of military employment brand, reputational interests, and consumer brand professionals focused on veterans and military families for the leading global retailer.
I remember watching Brian Stann fight in the UFC, thinking it was so cool to see a Marine in the octagon. Now, I think its even cooler to see a decorated Veteran taking a leadership position that allows him to influence the lives of so many other Veterans and spouses. Brian is the CEO of Hire Heroes USA. They do amazing work with Veterans looking for employment and career advancements. They proudly claim more than 50% success rate for all users that register on their website. That's amazing considering how many visitors come to the site "just to check it out." Hire Heroes USA is positively affecting our economy and the Veteran community with the services they offer. Brian even offers his opinion on the upcoming Mayweather/McGregor fight.
Brian Stann is President and Chief Executive Officer of Hire Heroes USA, a decorated Marine, and a nationally recognized analyst for the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship).A Naval Academy football player and graduate, he served two deployments with 3rd Battalion 2nd Marines in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM and was awarded the Silver Star, the nation’s third highest award for valor, for his actions near the Al-Romana Bridge during Operation MATADOR in May 2005. Stann took over as President and CEO of Hire Heroes USA, which is headquartered in Alpharetta, Ga., in 2008 and has grown the nonprofit organization to a total of seven offices across the country. Under his leadership, Hire Heroes USA has built a national reputation of excellence and is recognized as a best-in-class veteran service organization by the USO, Call of Duty Endowment and the George W. Bush Institute.
I've known Justin Brown for a couple years now and one thing I've always admired about him is how many people know who he is and know of his efforts. Justin founded HillVets with the intent to bring more Veterans to Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.. Justin believes Veterans can contribute greatly to our government and that they should take advantage of those opportunities. Just swung by our central office and chatted with us about service, transition, HillVets, and more.
Justin Brown is a senior staffer on Capitol Hill with more than a decade of Veterans’ focused experience and advocacy. He has been fighting on behalf of Veterans and their families, trying to increase educational and employment opportunities, while expanding access to benefits and healthcare. Justin began his commitment to public service at the age of 17 when he enlisted in the United States Navy. There, he completed one deployment in support of Operation Southern Watch and two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Following Justin’s service, he attended the University of Utah, graduating with dual bachelor’s degrees in three years. He became active in the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) where he served as the youngest All-American District Commander and Department Chief of Staff in its history.
VA works with many Veteran Service Organization to serve our Veterans. One of those longstanding partnerships has been Disabled American Veterans, an organization that has been around since World War I. DAV helps Veterans navigate the VA system, primarily by assisting with claims. They also provide a network and community for Veterans to thrive in. This week's featured guest is with DAV's National Adjutant, Marc Burgess.
J. Marc Burgess, a veteran of the Persian Gulf War, was appointed National Adjutant of the1.3 million-member DAV, on June 1, 2013. As DAV’s senior staff official, National Adjutant Burgess serves as the organization’s Chief Executive Officer and leads the 650-member DAV staff, managing all
operations of the organization of wartime injured and ill veterans, one of America’s largest charitable institutions.
Mr. Burgess served in the U.S. Navy from October 1987 through October 1992, when he was medically discharged. His service included crew member and plank-owner aboard the USS Normandy. He joined DAV before his discharge from the Navy and is a life member of Chapter 19 in Cold Spring,Ky.
It's always humbling to speak with a combat Veteran and even more inspiring to speak with one like this week's guest, Travis Mills. Travis joins the podcast this week to talk about his service, his injuries, his foundation, being a motivational speaker, and being a "re-calibrated warrior."
Covered in Episode 39:
Marine Veteran breaks world record to fight stigma
Interview with Army Veteran Travis Mills
Why he decided to join the Army
Three deployments to Afghanistan
Sustaining his injuries and recovering from them
Meeting the President
His efforts through his foundation and as a speaker
I'm sure everyone enjoyed bathing in the glory of our nation's freedom as we celebrated our Independence Day this week. I hope everyone's holiday was safe and joyful. This week's podcast features Darren Sherrard. Darren is an Army Veteran that served two decades and is now putting his skills to work for VA. He serves as VA's Associate Director for Recruitment Marketing. Darren helps drive the initiative that is VA Careers and helps communicate the value in working for VA to its potential employees.
Covered in Episode 38:
State Department VIP fellowship
Interview with Army Veteran Darren Sherrard
Why he decided to join the Army
Learning how to be a good leader
Transitioning after 20 years of military service
Getting his job with VA
The value in working for VA and his approach to recruiting
One of my favorite things about podcasting is learning about different parts of life and new concepts. Last week we learned about the positive effects roleplaying games have on Veterans, and this week we will learn about powerlifting. Enter: Steve Goggins.
Steve served in the US Army from September of 1983, until May of 1990. While in the Army, he served in the 82nd Airborne and was a member of the Armed Forces Powerlifting Team. He has competed in powerlifting for over 25 years and was the first powerlifter to squat 1100 pounds. he has won many titles since he started powerlifting as a teenager.
Covered in Episode 37:
Office of Enterprise Support Services
Interview with Army Veteran Steve Goggins
Why he decided to join the Army
Being a member of Armed Forces Powerlifting Team
Transitioning out to pursue a new career
The life of a powerlifter and coach
His experience using VA for health care
Reporting your experience to your patient advocate
Episode 36 brings us Joshua Heath. Josh served in the Army from 2006 to 2011 as a 91J Quartermaster and Chemical Equipment Repairer. While he was in, he ran a Dungeons and Dragons game for MWR while in Iraq, helping soldiers destress and escape. Now, he uses his company Reach Out Roleplaying Games to help connect people and create communities through gaming. Josh is going to talk to us about the benefits of playing RPGs and the effects he's seen in Veterans.
This week's podcast features Army Veteran Jeremy Paris. Jeremy served in the '90s in personnel. He is currently with Veteran Artist Program and hosts the Veteran Resource Podcast. He helped coordinate the 2017 Women Veteran Art Exhibit in collaboration with VA's Center for Women Veterans.
Jeremy Paris was born in Buffalo, NY and joined the US Army immediately after graduating from high school. After ten years as a Personnel Administration Sergeant he left the military to become a government contractor performing computer support to the Department of Defense. Although the initial plan was to be a contractor for two years and then split, he spent the next 16 years supporting the same customer within different rolls. Jeremy has been on the staff of Veteran Artist Program (VAP), a non-profit Veteran Service Organization since 2010. While at an event in Washington DC with VAP Jeremy shook hands with people representing so many veteran-focused organizations that he was blown away. It was the realization that most veterans had no idea that these organizations existed that prompted Jeremy to start this podcast. The new mission of the Veteran Resource Podcast is that every single one of the 20,000 veterans transitioning out of the military each month will have the opportunity to learn about the veteran organizations that are available to them.
This week's podcast focuses on the announcement made by Secretary Shulkin on Monday. The Department of Veterans Affairs will be adopting the same electronic health record system used by the Department of Defense. The podcast features audio from SECVA at the White House press briefing. He provides remarks on the announcement originally made at VA's central office earlier that day, followed by questions from the media.
I hope everyone had a safe and solaced Memorial Day. I had the opportunity to meet with hundreds of Veterans and other members of our community at Sunday's Rolling Thunder demonstration. It was humbling hearing riders talk about their fallen comrades and whom they were riding for. It's moments like those that keep me grateful for our nation's service members and Veterans.
This week's podcast features retired Army Brigadier General Henry Huntley. Henry I are colleagues in the Office of Public Affairs at VA's central office. Each time I speak with Henry, my respect for him grows. Henry had a long, decorated career in the Army before coming over to VA. He's going to talk to us about his time in the service, his transition out, and how VA fulfills his post-military service to Veterans.
Each year, at their national convention, Student Veterans of America announces a Student Veteran of the Year. This award is competitive and quite prestigious as the Veterans considered have impressive resumes as service members and as student Veterans. 2017's Student Veteran of the Year is Kate Tillotson, a Marine Veteran currently attending University of Tulsa.
Kate served in the Marine Corps for four years as a Radio Operator. After she got out, she began pursuing higher education. Now, she's the president of her Veterans group on campus. Kate talks to us about growing and developing her SVA chapter to be one of the most active groups on campus.
Episode 31 of This Week at VA is another "best of" type episode. This volume of Meritorious Segments includes soundbites from AMVETS National Director Joe Chenelly, Team Rubicon Chief Operations Officer Art delaCruz, and Team RWB Executive Director Blayne Smith.
Even if you've heard each episode, I know you'll appreciate hearing these stories and sentiments again.
Covered in episode 31:
Blayne Smith talks about value of Team RWB
Joe Chenelly describes AMVETS' service to Veterans
Art delaCruz explains his role at Team Rubicon and why the organization is so powerful
We are 30 episodes into the podcast and I'm going to do something a little different with this one. This is going to be a "best of" episode. I pulled four clips from our more popular interviews to feature in what I'm calling "meritorious segments."
Even if you've heard each episode, I know you'll appreciate hearing these stories and sentiments again.
Covered in episode 30:
Kayla Williams on deploying to Iraq
Jared Lyon on the value that student Veterans bring to a campus
John Lee Dumas about why he chooses VA in Puerto Rico
Bill Rausch about his feelings regarding his Bronze Star and being proud of his service
May 12, 2017
#29: Bob Wright – Army Veteran, Prostate Cancer Survivor
I was introduced to Bob Wright by an organization named Us Too. Us Too is an organization that supports and advocates for men at all stages of prostate cancer. Bob is an Army Veteran having served in Vietnam. He is going to talk to us about his time in the military, discovering he had cancer, and become a support group leader for men.
Bob served as a Battalion Surgeon`s Assistant as First Lieutenant Medical Service Corps with 101st Airborne Division. He was in Vietnam from 1969-1970. During his time in service, his efforts were recognized with a Combat Medical Badge, Bronze Star , Vietnam Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and National Defense Service Medal.
When you're active in the Veteran community, you tend to hear names repeated in conversation and mentioned on social media. Recently, one of those names is Skye Marshall. I saw Skye in Got Your 6's #shesbadass campaign and knew she'd make a great feature on the podcast. Skye talks with us about serving in the Air Force, following her dreams to Hollywood, working with Al Pacino, and more.
At the age of 19, Skye enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed at Nellis AFB, Las Vegas, NV. In Las Vegas, she heeded her true calling when she beat more than 8,000 college students from across the U.S. to be apart of the principal cast in the New Line Cinema feature film "The Real Cancun." Skye made her national movie theater debut Spring 2003. Although the film offered her many opportunities to fulfill her ultimate dream of being a full-time actress, Skye was determined to finish her goal of earning a college degree.
Skye graduated with honors in May 2007 earning a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, Media & Theatre (CMT Program) from Northeastern IL University. Following her graduation, Skye moved to New York City. While working corporate during the day, in the evenings she attended acting training at Stella Adler Studio along with dance classes at The Broadway Dance Center to fine tune her skills and better prepare herself for the big move from NYC to LA October 2009.
The Women In Military Service For America Memorial (WIMSA), is the only major national memorial honoring all women who have defended America throughout history. It sits at the end of the road as you approach the gates of Arlington Nation Cemetery near Washington D.C. Today's podcast features Army Veteran Dee McWilliams, the current president of WIMSA. Dee talks to us about her 29 years in the Army, retirement, serving as WIMSA president and the significance of the women's memorial.
MG Dee Ann McWilliams retired from the Army in 2003, later joining the Office of the Director of National Intelligence where she served until 2010 as Director of the Lessons Learned Center.
MG McWilliams holds degrees from Lon Morris College, Stephen F. Austin University where she was named a distinguished alumnus, Texas Woman’s University, and the National War College.
IIn 2007, MG McWilliams joined the board of directors for the Women In Military Service for America Memorial Foundation, assuming the position of Vice Chair in 2014. She formerly served as President of the Army Women’s Foundation, a Director on the Army Historical Foundation Board, and on the Lon Morris College Board of Trustees.
She was the 2013 recipient of the American Veterans Center Lillian K. Keil Award for outstanding contribution to women’s service in the United States military and was named a Trailblazer by Women Veterans Interactive.
My interview this week is with Army Veteran Doug McCormick. I've been very fortunate in the past couple months and have received a lot of opportunities for interviews. My cup has run over, and finally, after sitting on it for six to eight weeks, I finally have opportunity to release my interview with Doug. We talk about a few important topics, to include Veteran community, entrepreneurship and money.
Note: We are not providing any financial advice and VA does not official endorse Doug’s guidance on money, but we did invite him onto the podcast because it is an important topic and respect him as a subject matter expert. If you have any questions or want to explore the ideas Doug brings, consult your family’s financial adviser or contact Doug directly using the contact information he provided.
Before joining HCI Equity, Doug worked in the Investment Banking Division of Morgan Stanley & Co., where he was involved in the completion of numerous mergers and acquisitions and acquisition-related financing transactions. Doug previously served as a Captain in the U.S. Army's 25th Infantry Division, receiving numerous awards for performance and achievement.
Doug serves as a board member of Team Red White and Blue and Bunker Labs, both veterans service organizations, and is a Henry Crown Fellow.
Episode 25 is here! This is a fun milestone for us and we're happy to continue this great program. This week's interview features two Veterans involved with the Veterans Community Project in Kansas City.
Kevin Jamison retired after 20 years of service in the Marine Corps. He served three tours in Iraq, was part of the embassy evacuation in Albania in 1997, and was part of the US operation in Haiti in 1994. He is now the Chief Operations Officer for Veterans Community Project.
Bryan Meyer is a prior Marine Corps helicopter Crew Chief. He deployed twice to Iraq and participated in Operations Shining Express. he is now the Chief Legal Officer for Veterans Community Project.
When Got Your 6 first got on my radar, I wasn't sure what they did. Years later, I still wasn't convinced I understood their mission. Then, a few weeks ago, their Executive Director Bill Rausch interviewed Secretary Shulkin for our YouTube Live event. After the event, I invited him to join me on the podcast and he enthusiastically agreed. We had a very informative and fun conversation regarding his service, Got Your 6, the Veteran space, collaboration among organizations, a conflict of guilt some veterans have, and even beards.
Bill Rausch is the Executive Director at Got Your 6. He is a former Army Major with over ten years of service including 17 months in Iraq serving under Generals Casey and Petraeus while assigned to the Information Operations Task Force. Prior to joining GY6, Bill was Political Director at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America where he oversaw policy and advocacy campaigns.
Bill is also an active community leader and volunteer serving as Chapter Captain for Team Red, White & Blue (Team RWB) in his local community in Alexandria, VA. He also serves on the Board of Directors at Volunteer Alexandria, an organization promoting volunteerism across all charity sectors.
Covered in Episode 24:
Veteran of the Day FAQ
Interview with Army Veteran Bill Rausch
Why he joined the Army
His experience in the military
Getting out and getting back in again
Top beards in the Veteran space
The mission and direction of Got Your 6
Four Veterans that he admires that have him excited
When I first conceptualized VA's podcast, I knew Team Rubicon would be an early feature. Team Rubicon has had a significant impact on the world by providing natural disaster relief and it has had an even bigger impact on the Veteran space by providing a renewed purpose for Veteran volunteers. This week's guest is the Chief Operating Officer for Team Rubicon, Art delaCruz.
Art delaCruz served honorably for more than 22 years in the United States Navy and enjoyed a career that included a broad range of assignments. Art commanded a Navy strike-fighter squadron, spent one year with McKinsey & Co. as a Secretary of Defense Corporate Fellow, served as a Topgun instructor, and made six combat deployments. After retiring, he spent two and a half years in the aerospace and defense sector in the roles of business development and strategy and planning.
This week's podcast features another participant in the 2017 Women Veterans Art Exhibit, Navy Veteran Debra Russell. The exhibit is traveling to ten different VA medical centers throughout the month of March to celebrate and honor Women's History Month and how Veterans use art for personal expression.
Debra joined the military in 1984 and served until 1997. She worked in supply early on and went on to work on the staff for an Admiral. She was "med-boarded" after a running accident and was separated from the military. Around that same time, she was dealing with a sexual assault she experienced with a superior. Debra opens up regarding her service, her transition, and how she uses art and photography for therapy.
The podcast continues to grow and it is thanks to our wonderful audience. Thank you for taking the time to listen to these powerful Veteran stories. This week's guest is Army Veteran Pamela Corwin.
Pamela served in the Army for six years. She went on to complete a Masters in Biology from The Citadel. She now works full-time as a wildlife and fisheries biologist for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
I asked Pamela to join me on the podcast because she is one of ten artists being featured in 2017 women Veterans art exhibit. The exhibit is traveling to ten different VA medical centers throughout the month of March to celebrate and honor Women's History Month and how Veterans use art for personal expression.
We're back with another great episode of This Week at VA. This week's featured guest is Army Veteran, Bobby Henline.
As a 4-tour Iraqi War Veteran, Retired Staff Sergeant, Wounded Warrior, Comedian, and Bravo748 Motivational Presenter, Bobby Henline’s story and lived experiences have been featured in numerous media, including the documentaries “Comedy Warriors: Healing Through Humor”, “Healing Bobby”, and “Weight of Honor”; on CNN, PBS KET, NPR, Today.com, and Time.com; Time Magazine, People Magazine, The Huffington Post, Guideposts, and The Nipawin Journal; as well as television, radio, and podcasts around the world.
During his initial six-month hospital stay, Bobby remained upbeat, positive, and relied on humor to get him through each day. Putting nurses in headlocks, trying to keep other wounded soldiers’ spirits up by telling them jokes, and singing a ditty over and over garnered the attention of his occupational therapist. She challenged him to go to an open mic night and try his hand at comedy.
I hope everyone had a pleasant President's Day weekend. This week's podcast is an exciting one as it features our new Secretary, Dr. David Shulkin. This is the first interview Secretary Shulkin conducted after swearing in as Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
The Honorable David J. Shulkin was nominated by President Trump to serve as the ninth Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) and was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 13, 2017.
Prior to his confirmation as Secretary, Dr. Shulkin served as VA’s Under Secretary for Health for 18 months, leading the Nation’s largest integrated health care system, with over 1,700 sites of care serving nearly nine million Veterans.
The podcast has officially reached more than 10,000 hits. We are truly grateful that all of you have taken the time to listen. This week continues the trend of great interviews with Navy Veteran Jared Lyon. Jared is the President & CEO of Student Veterans of America. Jared was our #VeteranOfTheDay in January 2016.
Jared Lyon was appointed President and CEO of Student Veterans of America (SVA) on January 4, 2016, overseeing all aspects of the organization. He initially joined the professional staff of SVA in 2014 as the chief development officer and executive vice president of operations. In this role Jared forged critical partnerships and secured record grant funding for SVA. Named National Student Veteran of the Year by SVA in 2011, Lyon has come full circle to lead the organization he credits with his educational success.
This Week at VA episode 17 features Marine Corps Veteran Joe Chenelly. Joe currently serves as the National Executive Director for AMVETS. A native of Rochester, N.Y., Joe enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in March 1998, serving with the 1st Marine Division, and was honorably discharged as a Staff Sergeant in April 2006. He is a combat veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, having served in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Kuwait, East Timor and the Horn of Africa. Covered in Episode 17: Hiring freeze exemptions Interview with Marine Veteran Joe Chenelly Joining the Marines Experiencing 9/11 attacks in the military Becoming a Veterans advocate AMVETS mission and Joe's efforts there Addressing suicide as a person and as an organization Supporting VSOs in your community #VeteranOfTheDay Navy Veteran Norris Taylor
Feb 10, 2017
Kayla Williams - Policy Research Roundtable on Women Veterans
Jim served in the Air Force as a pilot. He never planned to give the military nearly three decades of his life, but new opportunities presented themselves and he kept adding on the years. I met with Jim in his office at the national cemetery in Honolulu, which is affectionately called "The Punchbowl" as it sits in a crater on the island of Oahu. Jim has hosted many dignitaries at the cemetery, including former a former Secretary of Defense and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. As Jim mentions in his interview, the honor in working at the cemetery is serving the veterans that lay to rest there and the loved ones that come to visit them.
Covered in Episode 16:
NCA receives high marks for customer service
Interview with Air Force Veteran Jim Horton
Joining the Air Force
Being a pilot, flying F-16s
The awkward stage of no longer being in the military
Becoming a cemetery director
Assisting veterans and families at Punchbowl cemetery in Hawaii
This week's podcast is going to get emotional. Our feature interview is with Army Veteran Gordon Wallace.
We first met Gordon at the VA Pacific Islands Health System in Honolulu. He was playing music in the lobby with a fellow Vietnam Veteran. They strummed on their guitars singing familiar songs providing hospital guests with entertainment. Between songs, Gordon began speaking about his recovery. He talked about returning from Vietnam and being shunned by his family. He wept as he recalled being labeled as "baby killer."
We invited Gordon to share more of his story on our podcast and he humbly accepted. Gordon is a native Hawaiian and very proud of his service.
Covered in Episode 15:
Commentary on service from four Battle of the Bulge Veterans
Interview with Army Veteran Gordon Wallace
Using VA for benefits and counseling
His battle to receive his benefits
Being shunned by family when he returned from Vietnam
On December 16, 1944, the Germans launched what is considered their last major offensive of World War II. Just shortly after the Allied force's successfully invaded Normandy, France, the surprise attack from Hitler's forces caught the Allies off guard. The battle lasted until January 25, 1945. The United States suffered 19,000 fatalities and more than 89,000 casualties.
In commemoration of the 72nd anniversary of this historic battle of courage and fortitude, we invite you to meet Army Veteran Harry Miller.
During the Battle of the Bulge, the 1st Army Headquarters instructed the tank crews to go down to an ordnance depot and take whatever they needed for the tanks. “We had to take good parts off of one tank and put it on another. We finally got three tanks and a tank destroyer that would operate and run, and had a gun,” he said in an interview with VA. They took the three working tanks and sent them to their C Company. Those three tanks ended up taking out three German tanks, which ended up being members of the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitlerbeing, Hitler’s old body guards.
Jan 25, 2017
#14: Christian Benedetto - Marine Veteran, PTSDJournal
Episode 14 of the #VApodcast features Marine Veteran Christian Benedetto.
Christian Benedetto was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in November 2013. In the nearly 25 years that have passed since his military service with the United States Marine Corps in the First Gulf War and the early 1990s, he felt something was terribly wrong with him, yet he believed he was hiding it well. After being diagnosed, Christian founded and launched the PTSDJournal.
PTSDJournal is dedicated to improving the quality of life for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder sufferers and their loved ones. Each issue delivers in-depth research articles, personal narratives and alternate solutions that highlight the causes of PTSD and the keys to recovery. PTSDJournal advocates for the PTSD community, focusing on early intervention, diagnosis, treatment, and awareness initiatives. Each issue provides physicians, scientists, doctors, patients and families an outlet for PTSD awareness and educate the PTSD community and the general population about how to live with PTSD and where to get help.
* Christian''s decision to join the military. * How service introduced him to diversity * Leaving the military * Being diagnosed with PTSD * Launching the PTSDJournal * Using the East Orange VAMC * Research and apply for health care benefits with VA * #VeteranOfTheDay Air Force Veteran George Watson<http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/34471/air-force-veteran-george-watson/>
Jan 19, 2017
#13: John Lee Dumas - Army Veteran, Entrepreneur on Fire
John Lee Dumas is the host of EOFire, an award winning Podcast where he interviews today's most successful Entrepreneurs 7-days a week. JLD has interviewed over 1400 Entrepreneurs and EOFire has over 1 million monthly listens.
Covered in Episode 13:
* The value of VAntage Point * Interview with Army Veteran John Lee Dumas
* John's decision to join the military. * Powerful story from his deployment * Leaving the military * Entrepreneurship * Using Puerto Rico VAMC * Locating a VA facility using our directory * #VeteranOfTheDay Marine Corps Veteran Betty Moseley Brown
Special midweek episode for you with the State of VA.
As part of a two day MyVA Advisory Committee meeting, VA Secretary Bob McDonald and Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson spoke about the significant progress made in the five strategies of the MyVA transformation in 2016. This includes improving the Veteran experience, improving the employee experience, improving internal support services, continuous improvement and enhancing strategic partnerships.
A few highlights of the MyVA progress made in 2016:
17 million Veterans recieved appointments in their communities in FY15
Average wait times in September 2016 were less than five days for primary care, less than six days for specialty care and less than three days for mental health care
60 percent of Veterans surveyed in June trust VA
It takes just 24 minutes to enroll in VA health care over the phone
100 percent increase in the capacity for the Veterans Crisis Line facility
83 percent reduction in pending claims (those greater than 125 days) since the height in March 2013
47 percent decrease in Veteran homelessness since 2010
$226 million in cost avoidance by transforming how we order medical and surgical equipment
116 days: the average time to complete a claim
VA has the 5th OIT ranking out of 24 agencies in the Office of Management and Budget Benchmarks for customer satisfaction
106 community Veterans Engagement Boards to meet Veterans’ needs locally
VA now per-determines a Veteran’s eligibility for burial benefits at our 135 national cemeteries
McDonald and Gibson recognized the progress that has been made over the past two years, but emphasized that there is still more work to be done and that the VA must continue to serve Veterans by putting their needs first.
Jan 10, 2017
#12: James Davis - Air Force Veteran, formerly homeless Veteran
I hope everyone had a fun and safe new year. Our first episode of 2017 is with James "Jim" Davis. Jim is an Air Force Veteran and currently does Veteran Outreach for Pathways to Housing DC.
Jim has lived an interesting life. For more than a decade, Jim led a nomadic life of homelessness. He wandered around the country, taking odd jobs in the wilderness to barely get by. When he wasn't set somewhere through work, he wandered off to other states looking for adventure. When he finally emerged from the woods and began his journey back into civilization, he used VA to overcome some adversities in his life. Now, he uses these experiences to reach out to Veterans at Pathways to Housing DC. The mission of Pathways to Housing DC is to transform individual lives by ending homelessness and supporting recovery for people with disabilities. They do good work, and Jim is committed to serving his fellow Veterans by connecting with them through mutual experiences.
Covered in Episode Twelve:
Cities ending homelessness
Interview with Air Force Veteran James Davis
Jim's decision to join the military.
His first years out of the Air Force
Leaving his marriage
Recovering from homelessness
His work at Pathways to Housing
Using VA's homeless call line to get assistance
#VeteranOfTheDay Air Force Veteran Christopher Ford
Jan 06, 2017
#11: Blayne Smith – Army Veteran, Team RWB Executive Director
I hope everyone had a pleasant holiday and has some fun, safe plans for New Years. Our final episode of 2016 is with Blayne Smith. Blayne is an Army Veteran and currently serves as Executive Director at Team Red, White, and Blue.
Blayne works closely with Team RWB’s board members, staff, and volunteer leaders to develop and implement programs that serve veterans across the country. He provides strategic and operational guidance to the organization while building and managing key partnerships. Blayne is a West Point graduate and former Special Forces officer with combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Upon leaving the military, he worked at Quest Diagnostics while earning his MBA at the University of Florida. Blayne currently resides in Tampa with his two boys and leads the Team RWB Tampa chapter.
Covered in Episode Eleven:
Interview with Army Veteran Blayne Smith
Blayne's decision to join the military.
Experiencing 9/11 in the military
His transition out.
Joining Team RWB
The physical benefits of Team RWB
The social benefits of Team RWB
Succeeding with your new years resolution with VA
#VeteranOfTheDay World War II WAVES Veteran Edith May Crisman Yantis
Dec 30, 2016
#10: Gregorio Kishketon - Marine Veteran, Native American
We're ten episodes in! This podcast has been a lot of fun and we appreciate all of the great feedback we've received. Episode ten brings us Marine Veteran Gregorio Kishketon.
Greg is a VA employee that works at the central office in D.C.. He originally thought he was simply going to be #VeteranOfTheDay, but then he sat down for an interview and opened up about some vulnerable parts of his life.
Episode nine brings us Marine Veteran Justin Blazejewski.
Justin’s introduction to yoga began in 2007 while he was searching for different exercises that would help with a back injury he sustained while serving. Soon after his first class he dove into a daily yoga practice, quickly realizing the physical benefits of yoga when his back pain began to disappear after only a couple of weeks.
Justin was in his 4th year of monthly travel to Afghanistan and Iraq as a government contractor when he devoted himself to a daily yoga practice. Over the last 10 years he served as a communication engineer with a total of 41 temporary duty assignments. After years of constant travel, Justin realized the effects of the war zone were taking their toll, but he also noticed how the benefits of yoga were offsetting these effects.
Covered in Episode Nine:
Pearl Harbor story by Navy Vet Sterling Cale
Interview with Marine Veteran Justing Blazejewski
Justin's decision to join the military.
Sustaining injuries overseas
Being introduced to yoga and healing arts
Justin's goal to teach yoga to Veterans
Advice on how to maintain your own practice
Discover yoga at your VA facility
Dec 16, 2016
#8: Alfred Rodrigues – Navy Veteran, Pearl Harbor Survivor
Episode eight brings us Navy Veteran Alfred Rodrigues. He's affectionately called "Uncle Al" around the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Uncle Al was in Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on December 7th, 1941. We caught up with Uncle Al and talked to him about his service.
Covered in Episode Eight:
* WWII Navy Vet finds friend * Interview with Navy Veteran Alfred Rodrigues * Al's decision to join the military. * Pearl Harbor attacks * Serving during WWII * Where he was when the war ended * Sharing his experiences with others * Our thanks to the Greatest Generation
Dec 09, 2016
#7: Kayla Williams – Army Veteran, Director of Center for Women Veterans
Episode seven brings us Army Veteran Kayla Williams. Kayla serves as primary advisor to the Secretary on Department policies, programs, and legislation that affect women Veterans. In addition, she oversees the Center’s activities, which include monitoring and coordinating VA’s administration of health care, benefits services, and programs for women Veterans; serving as an advocate for cultural transformation (both within VA and in the general public) in recognizing the service and contributions of women Veterans and Servicemembers; and raising awareness of the responsibility to treat women Veterans with dignity and respect.
She is author of two books. Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army, is a memoir about her deployment to Iraq. Her second book is, Plenty of Time When We Get Home: Love and Recovery in the Aftermath of War, about her family’s journey from trauma to healing.
Covered in Episode Seven:
* Information on MakeTheConnection.net * Interview with Army Veteran Kayla Williams
* Kayla's decision to join the military. * Military before & after the 9/11attacks * Serving in Iraq * Transitioning from Servicemember to military spouse and Veteran * Working at Center for Women Veterans * Connecting with the Center for Women Veterans * #VeteranOfTheDay Air Force Veteran Timothy Montjoy
Dec 02, 2016
#6: Michael Lumpkin – Navy Veteran, cancer survivor & civil servant
We hope everyone had a pleasant Thanksgiving. Here at VA, we are all thankful for our Veterans, their families and our staff that are committed to serve them.
Episode six brings us Michael Lumpkin. Michael served in the Navy and went on to work in three federal departments. He is currently the Special Envoy and Coordinator of the Global Engagement Center at the U.S. Department of State. In this role, Mr. Lumpkin leads efforts to coordinate, integrate, and synchronize Government-wide communications activities directed at foreign audiences abroad for the purpose of countering violent extremism and terrorism.
Mr. Lumpkin has more than 20 years of active duty military service as a Navy SEAL where he held every leadership position from platoon commander to Team commanding officer. Mr. Lumpkin has participated in numerous campaigns and contingencies throughout the world to include both Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
Covered in Episode Six:
Thoughts from Ralph Burns, a Native American Veteran.
This week's featured guest is Navy Veteran Brad Snyder. Snyder has been a #VeteranOfTheDay and is featured in our videos from the Team USA Awards, where Brad first agreed to today's interview.
Bradley Snyder is a swimmer on the United States Paralympic team who competed at the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London and the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio. Snyder won two Gold medals and one Silver at London and three Gold and one Silver at Rio. He lost his eyesight from an IED explosion while serving in the United States Navy in Afghanistan. Among fully blind swimmers, he is the current world record holder for the 100-meter freestyle events.
Covered in Episode Five:
Adaptive sports insight from Paralympic athletes.
Interview with Navy Veteran Brad Snyder
Brad's decision to join the military.
Becoming blind and adapting.
His book "Fire in my Eyes."
His thoughts on adaptive sports
Information on trying adaptive sports
#VeteranOfTheDay Marine Corps Veteran Darrel L. Franklin
Click here for the full script of the episode. Be sure to subscribe and review the podcast in iTunes.
Nov 18, 2016
#4: Robert A. McDonald – Army Veteran, Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Happy Veterans Day! Joining us on this Veterans Day episode is Secretary Robert McDonald. Secretary McDonald, who prefers to be called "Bob," is an Army Veteran and former CEO of Procter & Gamble.
An Army veteran, Mr. McDonald served with the 82nd Airborne Division; completed Jungle, Arctic, and Desert Warfare training; and earned the Ranger tab, the Expert Infantryman Badge, and Senior Parachutist wings. Upon leaving military service, Captain McDonald was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal. Since joining VA, Secretary McDonald has led the Department in its ambitious transformational journey to be a world-class service provider and the No. 1 customer-service agency in the Federal government giving Veterans consistent, high-quality experiences.
Covered in Episode Four:
* The story of Medal of Honor recipient, Michael Fitzmaurice. * Interview with Army Veteran Robert McDonald
* Bob's decision to join the military. * Transitioning to Procter & Gamble. * Could VA handle another influx of combat Veterans? * Measuring the impact of his leadership after he leaves. * How he uses his time most efficiently. * His emotional response to Veteran homelessness * The new Vets.gov portal. * An ode to all Veterans
Click here for the full script of the episode.
The #VApodcast is now available in iTunes. Search “This Week at VA” in the Podcast app.
Nov 11, 2016
#3: Fred Wellman – Army Veteran, CEO of ScoutComms
November is upon is and episode three of the podcast is here. This week's feature guest is Army Veteran Fred Wellman.
Wellman is a retired Army officer having served 22-years as an aviator and public affairs officer including four combat tours. He currently is the CEO and Founder of ScoutComms, Inc., a B Corp communications and corporate social responsibility firm supporting organizations addressing the needs of veterans and military families. He founded the firm in 2010 and it is today one of the first B Corp firms focused on veterans issues in the world.
Francisco Urena is a Marine Veteran and currently serves as Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans’ Services and previously served as the Veterans’ services officer for the cities of Boston and Lawrence, Massachusetts.
Covered in Episode Two:
The valuable content being shared on our social media platforms